Saanich is moving forward with a food truck pilot program set to begin this summer pending updates to the COVID-19 situation.
During the March 16 council meeting, council was presented with a report outlining options for implementing a food truck pilot program for the summer in Beckwith, Cadboro-Gyro, Gorge Waterway, Mount Douglas and Mount Tolmie parks.
The idea for the pilot program came out of a Parks, Trails & Recreation Advisory Committee, explained Coun. Ned Taylor who chairs the committee. He was pleased to see the group “take initiative” and work to bring food trucks to Saanich.
In December, council directed municipal staff to look into the implications of a food truck pilot program and bring forward options for implementing it.
On Monday, council reviewed several options for the pilot program and ultimately unanimously agreed that having staff apply for Temporary Use Permits to allow food truck operation in Saanich for up to three years would be better than changing the existing Parks Management and Control Bylaw. Currently, the rules state that “no person shall sell or offer to sell any refreshments, goods or services or conduct any business in any park or on any beach save and except with written permission from council.”
After three years, the related bylaws would need to be amended.
The pilot program is also expected to cost the District approximately $40,000 in additional staff, fire personnel and operational costs. This funding will be added to the 202o budget deliberations as an additional resource request.
Taylor was pleased to see the pilot program move forward. He emphasized that the food truck program will be a great way to “enliven” Saanich parks, get residents outside and provide economic opportunities for food truck operators.
He hopes to see Saanich prioritize food trucks offering healthy options and operating sustainably. Food truck operators will be responsible for the excess garbage in the parks for 2020 and municipal staff will monitor how effectively this is managed.
During the March 16 meeting, Councillors Judy Brownoff and Nathalie Chambers asked how the COVID-19 outbreak will affect the food truck pilot program. Staff explained that an inquiry will be made to the health minister regarding recommended food safety precautions. Taylor also recommended that council keep an eye on the pandemic situation and consider postponing the pilot program to the summer of 2021 if necessary.