Something smells rotten at Vancouver’s City Hall. As you are probably aware I am a huge supporter and regular customer of Vancouver’s Street Food revolution. Made up of amazing food and great people it is easily the coolest thing to hit the streets of our city in years. Given the success of the initial wave of trucks, who won the right to operate in a lottery, the City of Vancouver has implemented a new approval system that seems far too complicated with a hint of favoritism and a dash of political over-involvement.
The new system involves a panel of “experts” who choose from a number of candidates vying for one of the coveted downtown spots. The biggest concern I and many other street food fans have is the introduction of “people who know people” in the restaurant industry giving business associates the green light while other possibly more qualified vendors get left out in the cold because they didn’t know the right people.
Another concern I have is that nutritional value is one of the categories that is considered. Really? Do traditional restaurants face this scrutiny when opening a new location? Are the hundreds of purveyors of fast food held to the same standard? No they are not and it is unfair to expect anything different from street vendors.
Recently a website devoted to Vancouver’s street food scene, vancouverstreeteats.com was suddenly shut down and all content removed by it’s operator and is now completely gone. The reasons given were a damning assessment of the new selection process and after speaking with several vendors I learned that these concerns were shared by most current and future operators. An anonymous source in the business told me “We had these concerns from the beginning with the new selection process”. Another person in the business told me off the record that City Hall had told them out of the final 50 chosen in this round, 19 were getting spots through judging, but the judging never took place and 19 trucks were awarded the spots without giving the other 31 people a reason why they weren’t even able to compete.
Don’t take this he wrong way though, every current street vendor operating in Vancouver has done a great job and they all serve amazing food. It would be a shame for City Hall to over complicate and ruin a great new niche market in the city that is beginning to attract international attention.
Street vendors make this city better, don’t let politics take away another great attraction to Vancouver. Get out and find these guys and eat some really great, affordable food and tell Vancouver City Hall to get stuffed, the people have spoken and we want street food!