--Food trucks in Gatineau approved by council
Gatineau has officially legalized food trucks. Approving a bylaw allowing street kitchens to operate in the city, at its monthly meeting on March 16, Gatineau council aims to revitalize the local culinary experience while helping small businesses.
Planning to provide around 30 permanent food truck permits to established local restauranteurs this summer, the city intends to launch a call for tendering and announce the regulations involved for obtaining a business permit in the coming weeks - according to city spokesperson Paméla Touchette-Giroux. Calling it great news for local businesses, the Aylmer Association of Professionals, Industrials and Merchants’ (APICA) General Manager Nathalie Rodrigue looks forward to seeing how the city will integrate food trucks to Aylmer’s growingly vibrant economic sector. “It will diversify the offer,” Rodrigue said. “It’s well-regarded among local businesses owners. They don’t see it as competition necessarily. It just increases the offer; it brings out more people and it boosts business. It’s seen from a positive point of view for everyone.”
Working with the city to elaborate the project, Rodrigue explained that APICA serves as a liaison for local entrepreneurs interested in getting involved with food trucks. She added that APICA and other local entrepreneurial organizations have provided extensive lists of ideal locations to operate the food trucks to the Comité consultatif d’urbanisme - which is in charge of the file and selecting the locations. “We’ve been involved since the beginning of the process,” Rodrigue said.
Intending to request lists of optimal locations on an annual basis, Plateau district councillor Maude Marquis-Bissonnette explained that the project will initially prioritize locations that don’t offer a wealth of culinary options. “It responds to an important concern among business owners, that there will not be a cannibalization of services,” Marquis-Bissonnette said. “Restaurant owners didn’t want food trucks to basically park themselves right in front of their business, which is completely logical.”
Seeing the direct impact of pop-up kitchens on business activity last summer – despite the pandemic - Marquis-Bissonnette said the bylaw is all about benefitting local businesses, and maximizing what Gatineau has to offer. “It creates more opportunities for residents to take advantage of public spaces,” Marquis-Bissonnette said. “It responds to certain needs in sectors where there isn’t as much culinary variety and spaces that we can enjoy.” Directly contributing to the bylaw’s conception, as part of the city’s sub-committee dedicated to economic recovery launched last fall, Marquis-Bissonnette said she’s proud to see it come to fruition, and excited to take advantage of local food trucks. Positive about the pilot project and what it can offer the community, Deschênes district councillor Mike Duggan said he looks forward to enjoying a delicious delicacy under the sun in the months ahead.
Hoping for the service to be delivered at Parc des Cèdres, Aylmer district councillor Audrey Bureau said she’s anxiously looking forward to the project as well. Lucerne district councillor Gilles Chagnon - also happy about the bylaw - said it should directly benefit a number of established restaurant operators without negatively impacting others. “We’re not taking away revenue from existing restaurants who are paying taxes,” Chagnon said. “It’s more like an extension to those restaurants. For me, it’s very fair.”
While no participating businesses having been selected yet, Rodrigue expects the majority of food trucks that end up in Aylmer for the first year of the project to be largely from other sectors – giving locals a taste of what’s good elsewhere. “There are some in Old Hull that already have food trucks,” Rodrigue said. “For sure, they see a great opportunity in Aylmer. There’s a greatly diversified clientele … the majority of them want to come to Aylmer.”
According to the city, street kitchens consist of parked trucks in public spaces that prepare and sell meals. Before enacting the bylaw, the city only allowed people to obtain temporary food truck permits during events like fairs and festivals.
In June of 2019, Municipal council initially mandated the Service de l’urbanisme et du développement durable (SUDD) to initiate the process of establishing a pilot project for street kitchens. In March of 2020, council approved the pilot project, initially intended to allow two street kitchens to operate in downtown Hull. The pilot project was supposed to take place between May and October, but was halted by the pandemic.
Noting that council suggested certain modifications, which are being evaluated, to the bylaw during last week’s meeting, Touchette-Giroux said councillors intend to bring forward a motion to propose the changes at an upcoming public meeting.