Food trucks approved coming to Gatineau
Gatineau approved food truck permits in a proposed bylaw, February 16. In a press release issued by the city on the same date, it noted that municipal council will evaluate the proposed bylaw during an upcoming public meeting. It explained that street kitchens consist of parked trucks in public spaces that prepare and sell meals. If approved, the new bylaw would allow food trucks to operate in the city on a full-time basis, noting that it expects to include a selection criteria to determine the locations of the food trucks and which merchants will be granted permits.
As it stands, the city’s legal parameters indicate that people can obtain temporary permits to operate a food truck during an event such as a fair or a festival. This spring, the city should put out a call for candidates interested in operating a food truck, as well as the rules that come with the permit. Last year, the city initially approved a pilot project allowing a number of food trucks to operate in certain locations, that was supposed to take place between May and October. But, the project was halted by the pandemic.
As COVID-19 continues to affect local businesses, especially restaurants, Aylmer district councillor Audrey Bureau said that circumstances accentuated the need to expand Gatineau’s culinary offerings. “We see more and more that businesses want to be closer to their consumers, and thy want to diversify their offerings to consumers,” Bureau said. “They want to reinvent themselves … we really want to try to facilitate things for [businesses] and augment their clientele.”
Stating that this project will initially provide 30 permanent food truck permits, Bureau said they will only be available to established entrepreneurs desiring to diversity their streams of revenue. “We’re not creating unfair competition,” Bureau said. “One must own a restaurant on the Gatineau territory.”
Lucerne district councillor Gilles Chagnon referred to the food trucks as what will serve as an extension of existing restaurants.
While the project is intended for culinary purposes, Bureau believes businesses can obtain temporary or seasonal event permits – typically valid for 30 days and possibly renewable if needed – to associate food trucks with other types of enterprises. “One possibility is to open the food truck bylaw to include small ‘maker’ businesses,” added Lily Ryan, Bulletin publisher. “Aylmer’s home-based business scene has exploded, these producers would be perfect in trucks like food trucks.”
“I think that’s a possibility,” Bureau said, noting that she encourages Aylmer businesses to collaborate with one another. “To have a truck that combines two offers of service, as long as they sell food.” She added that the Executive committee will decide the locations of the food trucks depending on what entrepreneurs request. The Aylmer councillor also suggested that the Marina area would be an ideal location.
Bureau invites restaurant operators who are interested in taking their business to the streets to contact either the city or the Aylmer Association of Professionals, Industrials, and Merchants (APICA) to learn how to apply for a permit. If everything goes well, food trucks should be a reality in Gatineau starting either in the spring or the summer, Bureau said.
Considering the pandemic’s negative impact on numerous business sectors, notably the restaurant industry, Commission du développement du territoire, l’habitation et l’environnement and Plateau district councillor Maude Marquis-Bissonnette expects the proposed bylaw to be beneficial for entrepreneurs who use it. “It’s good news for restaurateurs since it acts as an opportunity to diversify their sources of income during the pandemic and, of course, for the economic recovery,” Marquis-Bissonnette said. “For residents, it will also be another way to enjoy the city and its attractions, all while supporting buying local.”
Proud of the project and what it means for the city’s potential economic recovery, Commission du développement économique de Gatineau President and Lac-Beauchamp district councillor Jean-François Leblanc said he’s desired to make local street kitchens a reality for quite some time. “Restaurateurs are ready to launch embark on this new venture, and the population will have the opportunity discover them, all while taking advantage of beautiful summer days,” Leblanc said. “Street kitchens are an economic development vector, which, in the midst of a pandemic, will help entrepreneurs diversify.”