Some food truck owners in Regina are upset after the city raised permit prices, pushing some vendors out of public centres.
Rob Reinhardt, owner of Prairie Smoke & Spice BBQ, said he’s operated his food truck at the City Square Plaza since 2012 when the city first began its pilot program.
“There was a huge buzz. It was an exciting place to be,” Reinhardt said. “Thousands of people would come down because they knew there was going to be a wide selection of vendors to choose from.”
After the pilot program was complete, Reinhardt said the fee settled at about $1,400.
Then, he said food truck sales began decreasing. Toward the end of last season, he said he started to question if getting a permit was worthwhile.
The nail in the coffin was the city upping the permit price to $1,680.
Food truck offerings might be popular with people, but Regina food truck operators say the business model faces challenges locally, with only four months to operate and stiff costs to pay. (Andrew Lupton/CBC)
Permits allow the holders to park at a metered parking stall, the City Square Plaza, the Sandra Schmirler Leisure Centre, the Northwest Leisure Centre and Rambler Park. Vendors on private property and festivals are not required to hold a permit.
“Once word got around from my fellow food truck vendors this spring that the fees had increased another $300, it pretty much made our decision at that point,” he said. “The fees are too high.
“I don’t think the city recognizes how difficult this business is. We have four months to earn a living with a food truck in Regina.”
Permits down in May
Reinhardt said a number of other food truck operators were upset by the price increase and decided not to renew their city permits this year either.
A spokesperson for the City of Regina said it issued four permits in the month of May. Last year, it issued six in May and four in June.
Reinhardt said he doesn’t expect any last-minute permit purchases.
“I think anybody that was planning on renewing that permit this year has already done so,” he said.
Instead, Reinhardt said he’ll operate at special events and at the Regina Farmers Market, which food trucks also pay a fee to park at. Through the Farmers Market and private catering, Reinhardt said he makes enough to hire two full-time staffers over the summer.
He said the economy hasn’t left food trucks profitable.
“Our sales were down significantly last year. They’ve been kind of on a downward trend for two or three years,” he said.