Food truck concerns see businesses pull out of downtown food district program in Brampton

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Published June 26, 2024 at 3:20 pm

Burlington food truck vendor Burloak Oakville

Local restaurants say they’re dealing with noise, garbage and lost revenue due to a city food truck program – an initiative which no longer has the endorsement of Brampton’s downtown business association.

“We have been hit hard,” Navneet Singh Lotey, owner and director of Tadka King restaurant told Brampton City Council on Wednesday.

He was just one of several restauranters who say they are struggling since the food district pilot program launched last year, adding that he’s lost some 60 per cent in revenue.

“Due to that we’ve had to give unemployment to the workers who have worked for us in the past three years,” he said, adding that the lost business and safety concerns related to the food trucks have become “intolerable” for Tadka King and many downtown businesses.

“I don’t want to complain about the other places, but I just want my palace to be safe because my customers are not feeling safe,” alleging the food trucks and their customers have created a nuisance between loud music and litter.

He also claimed some trucks have dumped used oil down city storm drains.

The Downtown Brampton Food District launched in 2023 with support from the local BIA, allowing food trucks to operate downtown on Main Street near Diplock Lane.

That endorsement was officially withdrawn on Wednesday.

Chair of the Downtown BIA Carrie Percival said the pilot project has caused “significant harm” for businesses.

“The current, shameful, esthetic appearance of the area – with multiple closed trucks, dilapidated cars and increased litter – all have consequences for the active and inviting laneways we have all invested in in the last three years,” she told council on Wednesday.

“Our downtown businesses are the lifeblood of our community and we need to ensure that their voices are heard and their concerns are being addressed.”

Another concern for businesses is the type of food trucks operating in the pilot area. The program launched with a somewhat diverse selection of food but now at least seven of the eight food trucks are all dedicated to Indian cuisine.

“Savor every bite as you stroll through rows of eclectic food trucks, each offering a unique culinary experience,” reads a description of the Downtown Brampton Food District on the BIA’s website. “From sizzling BBQ to mouthwatering tacos, artisanal burgers to exotic vegan fare, there’s something to tantalize every palate.”

Deputy Mayor Harkirat Singh said he’s been a frequent visitor to the food district and said the lack of diversity in food options is an issue for similar brick-and-mortar restaurants that are losing business.

No plan was put forward at the meeting regarding fixing or altogether scrapping the pilot project, however, Mayor Patrick Brown suggested introducing a “non-compete clause” to the program that would ban “culinary options” already provided by traditional downtown restaurants.

And while Lotey said the downtown restaurants want to work with the city on the project he’s confident a non-compete clause is “not going to work out” for local businesses.

Downtown retailers and restaurants have also been struggling through rolling road closures and construction to replace aging watermains and sanitary sewers in Brampton.

The city made $150,000 in grants available to businesses in the Downtown Brampton BIA through the Downtown Construction Mitigation Grant to help ease the burden of lost business.

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