City looks to reap benefits of mobile-food industry like Regina

The idea of allowing mobile food vendors on public streets in Saskatoon could invigorate an already bustling downtown but it definitely worked for the City of Regina.

“We had the city’s core plaza opening up and we felt food was one way we could attract and support activity,” said Chris Sale, downtown planner with the City of Regina.

His administration reviewed Regina’s food truck policy in 2012 and after giving mobile food vendors the green light the downtown core has seen a significant increase in foot traffic.

“It’s reinforced the lunchtime culture,” said Sale.

“One thing food trucks do is they bring more activity to the plaza as well as helping support our events and new activities happening beyond the lunch rush.”

Sale added 129 events took place last year between May and the end of September and they signed nine contracts with various vendors.

“We saw taco trucks, smoke barbecue trucks and three or four fried food trucks.”

In Saskatoon, community services manager Alan Wallace said during the review of the current policy they need to tow a fine line, as to not leave established businesses out in the cold.

“It’s got to be a level playing field though and we’re concerned about opening it up too much,” said Wallace.

Sale said getting the policy in place was a crucial step in bringing in new businesses to Regina, something Wallace hopes translates to Saskatoon.

“After the first year, I now get calls from event organizers looking for food truck contacts because they’ve seen the impact is has attracting traffic,” said Sale.