Hot dog vendor Aaron Eskola was denied a permit from the City of Duncan to set up his food cart in the city earlier this year. (File photo)

Duncan could soon allow food carts

Council considers zoning changes

Azam Khan plans to apply for a permit to operate his mobile food cart from the City of Duncan as soon as they become available.

Khan owns Vancouver Island Event Catering. He has a permit to operate a food cart from North Cowichan and has set up on the municipality’s property on the south side of the Silver Bridge, until seismic work recently began on the bridge, for years selling fish and chips, hamburgers, curries and more.

But he said he long anticipated being allowed to set up in downtown Duncan to tap into the daily lunch rush in the busy urban core.

“I’ve been doing this for a long time in the area, and our food is very popular, so I’ll be watching to see when I can finally apply for a permit to operate in Duncan,” Khan said.

The city’s current bylaws do not permit food trucks or food carts anywhere in Duncan, except in conjunction with the 39 Days of July Summer Festival through special application, the Farmers’ Market on Saturdays and some other special events put on by the Duncan Business Improvement Area.


But city council recently adopted a new far-ranging zoning bylaw that includes allowing food carts in Duncan, and the city’s committee of the whole has recommended allowing permits for that use at its meeting on June 5.

According to a staff report, the city has conducted initial consultations with the Downtown Business Improvement Association and the Farmers’ Market on allowing food carts into Duncan.

“Based on preliminary discussions, staff has observed general support for the potential benefits associated with mobile food vending,” the report stated.

“However, there are a number of related potential impacts to existing local businesses, city infrastructure, public safety and liability that should be addressed.”

Duncan Mayor Phil Kent said a number of food cart vendors were at the committee of the whole meeting on June 5 to hear the discussion.

“We’re looking at the regulations in place and how we would want them changed, and I expect a final decision will be made at an upcoming council meeting,” he said.

Staff are recommending a licensing fee of $200 for food carts to operate from private property, and $500 to operate from public property

If council moves forward with allowing the food carts, the licensing fees will be reviewed this fall to ensure that they adequately reflect processing costs, staff time, and potential future infrastructure costs.

Food trucks and carts that only operate at special events in the city would not be required to obtain a licence as they are regulated under separate permits.

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