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Richmond to open its street corners to food vendors

Noriki Tamura shows off Japadog’s most popular menu item, the Terimayo, in Richmond last year.  - Matthew Hoekstra photo
Noriki Tamura shows off Japadog’s most popular menu item, the Terimayo, in Richmond last year.
— image credit: Matthew Hoekstra photo

Sidewalk vendors could be serving up food in downtown Richmond by next May.

On Thursday the city issued a request for expressions of interest for sidewalk vending services at Westminster Highway and No. 3 Road.

As a pilot project, city hall is opening up three corners of the busy intersection to food vendors and other sidewalk retailers. The city will select up to three vendors in total for the project, expected to begin May 1, 2013, according to the proposal document.

The city isn’t charging vendors for the space, noting they have the ability to “contribute to the vibrancy of the city’s downtown core.”

Vendors face some restrictions. They can’t cause congestion or block pedestrian traffic, nor can they produce “offensive odours.” And any would-be vendor must offer goods and services that don’t directly compete with nearby businesses.

For food vendors, the city says menus must offer food that’s “healthy and grown locally” and packaged with environmentally-friendly materials.

The request for proposal comes over one year after city council first approved the pilot project. On June 27, 2011, civic politicians ordered staff to explore street-side retail at the intersection, which is located steps from the Richmond-Brighouse Station.

Under an existing bylaw, food vendors are not permitted to operate on city property, with the exception of moving ice cream trucks. But some mobile food vendors have operated in Richmond in recent years on property not owned by the city, including Japadog, which operates a hotdog stand near Vancouver International Airport’s parkade.

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