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Street food vending

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Hot dog and roast chestnut stands have been a staple of Vancouver street life for years.

Since 2010, Council has been expanding the options for food permits to include more diverse and nutritious choices, and more accessible locations.

Over 100 diverse vendors

There are now over 100 food trucks, carts, and vendors permitted to sell healthy, interesting, convenient, culturally diverse, and delicious food on Vancouver streets.

Locate Vancouver's food trucks and food carts by smartphone app.

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Related projects

Tell us where you would like a food cart pod

September 9, 2013 – Thank you for telling us where you want to see a food cart pod in Vancouver. The top locations were: Science World, Chinatown, Gastown, Robson Square, UBC, English Bay, Shaughnessy Park, and Waterfront Station. We will suggest these locations to the successful permit applicants in spring 2015.

June 4, 2013 – Popular in Portland, Oregon, a food cart pod is a group of food carts in a single location. Would you like a food cart pod near your work? Your school? In your neighbourhood? Use our interactive map to show us exactly where you want one.

  • The food cart pod survey is now closed.

15 new vendors added for May 2013

May 2, 2013 – For the spring of 2013, we added another 15 vendors to the program, offering more interesting and convenient food choices on our streets, from French crepes to healthy Filipino fusion, to traditional Belgian waffles, and more. This brings the total number of vendors providing nutritious and ethnically-diverse street food in our city to over 100.

Vancouver named third best street food city in North America

April 17, 2013 – Travel + Escape named Vancouver one of the top cities for street food in North America, along with such major "foodie" cities as Portland, Oregon and Austin, Texas.

Food carts adopted following a successful pilot program

April 2011 – Following a review of a 17-licence pilot project, the 17 licences were included in the regular street vending program.

17-licence food cart pilot project started

2010 – We launched a pilot project to assess the popularity of food carts in the city. A test consisting of 17 licences was established, and applications were reviewed by a nutritionist. The successful applicants were selected by lottery.

Council requests staff to report on how to expand food sold through street vendors

March 2008 – Council put forward a motion request staff to work with the Vancouver Food Policy Council to provide a report on how to expand the variety of food sold through street food vendors, focusing on nutritious foods that represent the cultural diversity of Vancouver, while expanding the geographical area in which vendors can operate, and increasing affordable food in low-income communities.

Council motions

In March, 2008, Council passed a motion requesting staff to explore ways to:

  • Expand the variety of food sold through street vendors
  • Expand the area in which street food vendors can operate
  • Increase access to affordable, nutritious food in low-income communities

Read the 2008 Council motion

The goal of the food cart program is to provide a wide range of nutritious and affordable food options that reflect the economic and cultural diversity of Vancouver.

By increasing the number of vendors and expanding the locations, it is expected this will:

  • Better reflect the wide varierty of cultures and tastes in Vancovuer
  • Provide a greater range of healthy, nutritious takeout food options
  • Expand the use of local food sources
  • Create local economic benefits
  • Increase the city's food security
  • Provide food options for communities currently underserved
  • Achieve health and well-being goals for the city (find out more about Vancouver's Healthy City Strategy here
  • Enhance pedestrian and bike routes
  • Enliven the city's street scene

For many years, Vancouver's street food scene was restricted to roasted chestnuts, popcorn, hot dogs, or prepackaged food such as ice cream bars. The vendor programme started in the late 70s with only one major expansion in number of permits, which were issued during Expo 86.

In 2010, Vancouver Council approved a new expanded street food program as a trial. The pilot was extremely successful and Council approved the new permanent program in 2011.

In 2011, 91 food carts were licenced. In 2012, another 12 were added through a highly competitive application process that included formal review by the City’s Engineering Department, Vancouver Coastal Health and an independent panel of judges. Of the 59 applicants, 25 finalists were chosen to participate in a taste test where their food was judged by a panel of 15 judges representing food services, hospitality, media, business associations, the general public and City Council. The 12 applicants with the highest combined scores from the application and taste test process were awarded new street food cart vendor permits and locations, all of which are Downtown.

Fifteen new street food cart permits will be issued in 2014, 2015 and 2016, bringing the total to about 150. It is expected the focus will be on locations outside the downtown core.

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More ways to contact us

Apply for a street food vending permit

Customers lining up to eat at a food truck

Street food vending permits

Permit, application and general information for street food vendors and food cart operators.

Learn more about doing business on city streets

Viva Vancouver on Robson St

Street and sidewalk use for business and activities

The sidewalks in the central business districts of Vancouver are wider by design. The extra width provides ample walking space, and encourages local business and entertainment activity. Find out about activities allowed on City sidewalks.

Last modified: Mon, 30 Jun 2014 11:12:33

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