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Saanich moves to make it easier for food trucks to operate on district land

Council removes temporary use permit requirement for food vending and Christmas tree sales
The Freshcoast Health Food Bar participates in a 2021 food truck pilot program. Saanich has moved to make it easier for food trucks to operate in district parks. (Black Press Media file photo)

Saanich council has moved to make it easier for food trucks and Christmas tree vendors to set up in parks and on other municipal property such as recreation facilities and at the municipal hall.

Councillors voted on Monday (April 22) to begin the process to ease restrictions on these vendors by directing staff to create amendments to alter the district’s zoning bylaws. Vendors will still need to get a park permit.

Both district staff and councillors noted how the addition of food and beverage concessions to parks and to events such as the Earth Day Festival at the municipal hall animate and add vibrancy to those spaces.

“It’s very unfun to have an event in a food desert,” Coun. Teale Phelps Bondaroff said at the meeting.

This is a way to make it easier for those vendors to operate.

Prior to this move, food trucks were allowed in parks under a district pilot program that began in 2021, but required each vendor to apply for a temporary use permit.

This pilot program ran until 2022 when it was replaced by a longer-term program, but which still required the temporary use permit.

These temporary use permits were valid for up to three years, but the process to get one could take up to five months and would include an extensive review process involving multiple municipal departments, neighbours, community groups and council.

“It’s a fairly onerous bureaucratic process,” Mayor Dean Murdock said in a Thursday morning phone call with Black Press Media.

Under the new rules vendors would still need to get a permit to operate from the district, but the general use is deemed allowable, eliminating the extended review process.

“Just making it a little easier and more convenient for people to be able to offer food services in the park,” Murdock said.

This will also save councillors time.

“I personally never want to see another temporary use permit related to a Christmas tree or a food truck,” joked Coun. Karen Harper at the end of the Monday meeting as the motion was being brought to a vote.

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About the Author: Mark Page

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