Edmonton food truck operators confused, frustrated over lack of city info

WATCH ABOVE (Aug. 25, 2018): As part of Global News at 11's Best of summer in Edmonton series, we asked you what the best food truck in the city is.

Editor’s note: Curbside operator Kim Szalynski emailed Global News late Friday night to say she received an email stating there will not be a change to the way transportation will work with food truck operators. Szalynski said she will have her usual spot throughout the season.

With the start of the Edmonton food truck season only days away, operators are in a fog over parking rules.

A city memo has been shared by one food truck operator that he received last Friday.

“As of this year, you will receive a vending permit that does not specify a specific location. The street spots will be determined on a first come first serve basis; meaning, if you are at an EPark location first, that is your spot for the day,” the memo reads.

The confusion revolves around a statement from an Edmonton traffic communications representative emailed Thursday to Global News.

“We can confirm there will be no changes to the city’s reservation system for food truck operators this summer. Food truck operators will continue to be able to reserve spots in EPark zones for their food trucks (at current rates),” the statement reads.

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Last year, a reserved spot could be had for $750 a month, with the EPark location then being hooded to keep other vehicles from taking up the space.

“Yeah, it’s kind of confusing right now to be a food truck owner for sure,” Curbside operator Kim Szalynski said.

“A lot of people are worried about how this is going to affect their business because our clients rely on knowing where we are all the time.”

Szalynski said dealing with the city is proving to be “difficult.”

“If you email, there is an automatic response that says we’ll be contacting you within 24 hours, which doesn’t necessarily happen,” she said.

“If you phone the number, it’s an automated service so you can’t really reach anyone. And because it’s a general email in most cases it’ll be somebody else. You get a different person replying to you at all times.”

Word has spread quickly through the food truck industry, after the initial city email came out last Friday.

“It was a shock,” Szalynski said after it was shared with her. “The food truck operators, we’re all looking out for each other, so when we passed on this information from another food truck, everybody I think was a little surprised to hear from our peer that this was happening instead of hearing it directly from the vending officer from the city.”

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“No changes to the reservation system for food trucks in downtown will be made without the city first consulting with food truck operators,” a city traffic spokesperson said in an email.

“We are in the process of reaching out to food truck operators to ensure they’re aware that there are no changes to the reservation system.”

Some food truck operators have received an email from city parking services that an info session is being set up for Thursday, March 28.

“We are proposing with the non-reserving of EPark stalls, the advantages to them and the current state the city faces with respect to the costs and difficulty in enforcement. They will also be told about the ‘advantages of a roaming permit.’ They’re also being told they can purchase both formats.”

READ MORE: Canadian cities should have more food trucks: Competition Bureau

Szalynski said she sent in her info to the city for the upcoming season three weeks ago and hasn’t heard a response.

“A lot of people have invested a lot of time and money into what they’re doing and a lot of people, this is what they do,” she said.

“To not be able to provide the services that they’re looking to give Edmonton, it’s going to be hard and a lot of the trucks will have to not continue doing what they’re doing.”

The season begins April 1.

WATCH BELOW (June 29, 2018): Boyle Street Eats is an Edmonton food truck entirely staffed with people touched by homelessness. As Albert Delitala explains, its plans go well beyond just selling food.

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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