Welcome to the next stage of Vancouver’s street food revolution.
The City of Vancouver is considering the creation of food cart “pods” outside the downtown core, according to the Vancouver Sun – clusters of multiple carts, all nestled together for your snacking convenience.
As anyone familiar with Portland’s food-cart scene knows, this promises to take street eating to a whole new level. In Portland, pods are everywhere. Dozens of food carts set up shop side-by-side in parking lots across the city – offering everything from burritos to falafels and kimchi tacos in one location. Crowds stream in, creating a festive, street-fair atmosphere and boosting business.
Vancouverites have gotten a taste of pod culture in the past.Examples include events like Dine Out Vancouver’s Street Food City and the weekly street food fests once held at the Waldorf. But the new plan calls for the creation of permanent pods in strategic spots.
It’s quite a leap forward from just a few years ago, when the only food carts on city streets were hot dog and popcorn vendors. But in 2010, Vancouver instituted a four-year pilot program to test demand for more street food options. Currently there are 103 permits for carts selling everything from Southern-style barbecue to organic salmon burgers and beer-braised chicken. And 12 new operators are slated to be added each of the next two years.
While most operators are assigned to a fixed location, 20 food trucks have mobile permits – enabling them to relocate when needed. According to Vancouver City Councillor Heather Deal, the next step may be the issuance of special pod licenses to new street food vendors.
For the moment, pods are being considered exclusively for areas outside the downtown core. Downtown carts, the logic goes, already attract enough foot traffic on their own, whereas carts serving outlying areas could benefit by clustering together and pooling their customer base.
Would you like to see food cart pods in Vancouver? Weigh in below.