Only one food truck took the City of Moncton up on its offer of a $750 food truck permit this summer, with others opting to operate on private property or simply heading out of town.
The $750 permit allows vendors to open from dusk until dawn, seven days a week, from May until the end of October in select spaces.
Michael Uberall, owner of the food truck Check Point Germany, said he participated in Moncton’s pilot project in past years, but has since moved to Oromocto.
“Moncton is doing the first step by giving us some space and some permits, but if there is nobody coming it doesn’t pay off,” he said.
“So we pay hefty fees in bad locations.”
Uberall regularly opens his truck in Saint John where he says the rules are less restrictive.
I have to go to where the business is.– Michael Uberall, food truck owner
He sells his German food in Fredericton during special events, but said that city isn’t very food truck-friendly either.
“I have to go to where the business is.”
“Just to put it out on a daily [basis] costs me $400 a day just to get it where it has to be, so I have to make money in order to keep the jobs and keep the business.”
Randy O’Brien also puts his mobile food truck to good use, travelling from his home in Shediac to Moncton, Riverview and Saint John regularly.
He plans to add Fredericton to the roster soon.
‘We had no choice initially’
“We had no choice initially. There were no other options,” said O’Brien, manager of the Bangkok Food Truck.
“We had to move and we had to try out different locations and we kind of settled on our current locations.”
His truck participated in Moncton’s pilot project for two years, but he opted out of buying a permit this year.
“We don’t pay $750 right now, we pay … well, we have various agreements, but it’s considerably less to park on private property and we’re already busy.”
It’s expensive, but it’s not unreasonable.– Randy O’Brien, food truck vendor
But O’Brien doesn’t balk at the permit price.
“It’s expensive, but it’s not unreasonable.”
“If someone were to park there five days a week for the weeks the permit allows, that would not be so expensive.”
He says bringing in food trucks on a more regular basis would help Moncton’s downtown attract business.
“What’s happening now is the truck is popping up, [it] is not drawing people to the downtown, it’s just giving an extra option to the people who are already there.”
City doesn’t want many vendors
Moncton’s mobile farmers’ market, shown here parked on St. George Street, is the only vendor to acquire a $750 permit from the city. (submitted)Richard Dunn, Moncton’s economic development officer, agrees that with a single taker, the permits are not attracting vendors.
But Dunn argues, that is not the point.
“We’re not in the game to get as many of these mobile vendors as we can,” he said.
He said the locations available to the trucks are chosen to try to create new places for people to go for food.
“Mapleton, Victoria Park, these are the types of areas that we are making available right now,” he said.
“You want a high traffic area, and some of these areas aren’t necessarily going to generate the … the number of customers that some of them may want.”
The one food truck vendor with a permit is The Farmers’ Truck, which sells produce.
However, Dunn said locations along the newly developed Downing Street in downtown Moncton may be available to food truck permit holders next year.
Both O’Brien and Uberall said they would like the city to develop a food truck food court, but Dunn said without more interest from vendors, the idea is not on the table.