Matt Gurney in the National Post on Toronto’s inch-by-glacial-inch move toward allowing a bit more variety in the foods street vendors can sell:
Last week, Toronto City Council approved hot dog vendors to sell an expanded variety of foods. The expanded list is still far from expansive. Veggie sticks, fruit salads and bagels with individually packaged butters are about the extent of the street food revolution in Toronto. Even these baby steps are progress, though — they follow the total failure of Toronto’s A La Cart program, which tried to expand the city’s food options to include more “ethnic” fare. The program, which should go down in history as the most botched effort the city has ever made, is Prosecution Exhibit A for those who believe that governments only exist to screw up things that really aren’t all that complicated.
But the city’s concern about street food, though overwrought and frankly embarrassing, at least comes from an honest place — concerns about spoiled food or improper preparation hurting public health. But Toronto has always missed the point. The public is protected when governments monitor outcomes and harshly punish failures, not seek to control process. Health inspections are an entirely reasonable part of the government’s job, with street food as much as any industry. And it seems that Toronto, while fretting about what food vendors might be doing wrong, hasn’t exactly been doing a bang-up job of its own responsibilities.
Hard though it is to imagine, other cities — even other Canadian cities — somehow manage to have all sorts of tasty treats for sale by food trucks, carts, and temporary kiosks without civilization crumbling.