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UPDATED: Food truck causes stir in Steveston

The Street Meet food truck operating on Bayview Street Saturday. - photo courtesy of twitter.com/steveston
The Street Meet food truck operating on Bayview Street Saturday.
— image credit: photo courtesy of twitter.com/steveston

A food truck caused a stir in Steveston last weekend when it began selling Mediterranean style street food despite a bylaw that doesn’t allow mobile food vendors on city streets.

Street Meet, a fast food business that operates from a bright yellow truck, set up shop on Bayview Street Saturday and Sunday, at one point parking in front of the vacant Esso marine site.

Reviews on Twitter were mixed. One noted “it was so awesome” to have street food in Steveston, while others questioned how a food truck was allowed to operate while parked on one of Steveston’s busiest streets.

“Support your local merchants, not the illegal food truck in Steveston,” read a tweet from the Steveston Merchants Association.

Vince Morlet, owner of Tapenade Bistro, was one of several local restaurateurs who was asking questions on the sunny weekend. He said small eateries along the waterfront offering takeout would be most impacted by the addition of food trucks, which have the ability to avoid the slow, rainy days other taxpaying Steveston businesses must endure.

“To have trucks just swoop in on the odd busy day come in, I don’t know how it really adds to the community,” he said. “Our concern is one food truck today, and (later) we have 20 lined up.”

City spokesperson Ted Townsend said Monday that food trucks, if licensed, can only operate on private property—not city streets—by agreement with the landowner. He said a bylaw allows only constantly moving vehicles, such as ice cream trucks, on streets.

Street Meet operators Alessandro Vianello and Mike Carter insist they have a licence and can legally sell food up to two hours on any street location in the city, provided they’re legally parked. After two hours, they must move 100 metres away, said Carter.

But Townsend said Street Meet was given a mobile food vending licence “under the understanding they would be serving work sites and movie sites.”

“They were not given permission to park on-street for any length of time,” he said. “There’s obviously a misunderstanding and miscommunication there and it’s obviously something we’ll be following up on.”

Staff at Richmond City Hall are looking into the possibility of allowing food vendors to operate more freely around Canada Line stations, but a report for city council hasn’t yet been prepared.

Townsend said there’s been some increased interest in food trucks in Richmond due to the popularity in Vancouver, but interest is still “fairly small,” noting two or three food truck businesses have licences to operate in Richmond.

Nonetheless, Carter said there’s demand for his food truck, saying he sold out of food each day they operated in Steveston Village.

“The demand was overwhelming and the feedback was amazingly positive,” he said.

He said they plan to be back in Richmond Thursday at Saba and No. 3 roads serving lunch street-side to pedestrians near the Richmond-Brighouse Station of the Canada Line.

“We set up shop in Richmond at 3 and Saba without really letting anybody know,” he said, referring to their opening day last Thursday, “and we had a lineup in 10 minutes.”

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