Town staff are advising council against allowing a food truck to serve booze at Millennium Point this summer.
The idea was first pitched by Steve and Vanessa Walker, owners of 1858 Caesar Bar, who asked council to run a pilot project allowing them to operate a patio and trailer at Millennium Park with a liquor licence.
Council asked staff to have a look at the proposal and come back with recommendations.
Deputy Clerk Becky Dahl told the Corporate and Community Services standing committee tonight (May 6) she’d recommend a full review and policy be developed before any food trucks are allowed to offer alcohol at town parks.
She said there was an "overwhelming" mostly-negative public response to the Walker’s proposal, along with four more requests from other food trucks asking to serve alcohol.
Dahl said staff had concerns about health and safety risks, traffic impacts, parking, washrooms, alcohol consumption near water, compliance with the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario, and enforcement of the rules surrounding all those issues.
“It’s also important to keep in mind fairness and equal opportunity to all interested,” said Dahl.
The current licensing bylaw for food trucks requires an annual application and $530 from vendors, but is silent on the issue of alcohol. Locations are granted on a first-come-first-serve basis.
The Caesar Bar was asking for 7,900 square feet of space to accommodate the trailer, a hand-washing station, washrooms and a cordoned-off patio where patrons could consume alcohol.
Steve Walker called into the committee meeting on May 6 to say he’s still confident they could make a pilot project work and offered to work with the town to come up with a plan to address concerns.
The Caesar Bar was the first patio in town to stay open for a portion of the winter. That too was a pilot project pitched by the Walkers.
Council members on the committee, however, didn’t appear to support the pilot project and instead went with the staff recommendation.
Mayor Brian Saunderson said such a use for the town’s park space “raises philosophical questions.”
“I think this is something that probably needs to be paused this year so we can do the proper legwork to give it a considered decision,” said Saunderson.
Dahl and town staff recommended working on a framework with public consultation to possibly entertain requests from food trucks to serve alcohol in 2022.
Acting Executive Director of Corporate and Customer Service Dean Collver said at first he thought the Walker’s proposal might be a good opportunity to run a pilot project and test the outcomes.
“But the feedback we got … when it was initially introduced … kind of told us a pilot would be problematic,” said Collver. “I think now we’re back into our normal mode, which is creating a framework for this to be possible – if it’s possible – after … public consultation.”
The standing committee members, including Mayor Saunderson, Chair Councillor Mariane McLeod, Councillor Bob Madigan, and Councillor Steve Berman voted in favour of staff’s recommendation to turn down requests for licensed food trucks this year and work on a town policy for 2022.
The decision will go to a full council vote later this month.