Could more food carts hurt Vancouver restaurants?
The B.C. Restaurant and Foodservices Association is warning that bricks-and-mortar businesses could suffer if Vancouver keeps licensing more food carts.
Association president Ian Tostenson says the city is reaching the saturation point for food carts with more than 100 now on the streets.
"I think that any time you can introduce more food and more excitement and more ways to serve that food, it gets people more engaged. But I think the real question is how many food carts does the city need before it starts to dilute that?" he told CTV News.
He added that the carts will also suffer if too many are allowed to operate.
"Imagine if you just kept licensing taxi cabs. At some point, nobody's going to make any economic return," he said.
But the city says there have been few complaints from restaurants or food trucks about the level of competition, and more carts are on the way, with a planned total of 130 by 2014.
Deputy city manager Sadhu Johnston says officials will be watching how businesses do, and may stop short of the total number of licences approved by council.
"We are learning as we go. We certainly don't have all the answers," he said.
"We want to be really strategic in the ways that we do it to make sure we don't hurt existing brick-and-mortar restaurants or saturate from the food cart side either."
Jay Cho, who operates the popular Korean/Mexican fusion truck Coma, says he's in favour of more competition.
"If there is more, this is going to be more people around because they have more options to choose," he said.
He's more concerned about earning a coveted permanent street-side location, and has decided to close up shop because he's tired of moving around on his mobile permit.
With a report from CTV British Columbia's Penny Daflos