Some Vancouver restaurant owners say the city's food carts are skirting the rules by parking too close to restaurants and cutting into their bottom line.
About two dozen restaurants have dropped off letters at city hall saying the mobile eateries operated out of trucks and trailers are encroaching on established outlets and eating away at profits
Ian Tostenson, the president of the B.C. Restaurant and Foodservices Association, says there are more than 100 carts scattered around the city and it is time for a moratorium on expansion of the program.
"We're hearing all the time in Downtown Vancouver about this whole idea of encroachment, where the principle of keeping away from restaurants and servicing food in under-serviced areas, that seems to have been gone by the wayside," said Tostenson.
He points out that restaurants pay property taxes ranging from $30,000 to $300,000 dollars.
City plans for expansion
Vancouver Coun. Heather Deal says the food-cart program has been a hit and the city is actually planning to expand it by handing out 30 more licenses over the next two years.
"The public loves them. They absolutely adore them, and one of the great things is people are now coming downtown to go for lunch," she said.
Deal says food carts are typically mom and pop operations and operate at a disadvantage to traditional restaurants, especially on rainy days.
"I did go through the list of the restaurants that are complaining. The majority of them are national and international chains and they're not right next to food carts," she said.
Deal says there are rules to prevent encroachment and she says the city is willing to investigate any specific complaints from restaurant owners.
The city opened the streets to the mobile street food vendors in 2010, based on popular models used in the Portland and other parts of the U.S.