Council’s plan to make it easier for food trucks to succeed
IPSWICH City Council will work to reduce red tape for local food truck businesses who say it is easier to operate in Brisbane than in Ipswich.
With COVID-19 causing the cancellation of events throughout most of the year, it has been an especially difficult 2020 for these businesses.
Division 1 councillor Jacob Madsen was approached by Willowbank-based Katrina Czapracki, whose Dippin Dots Ice Cream van travels across Ipswich, greater Brisbane and Toowoomba.
The council’s economic and industry development committee endorsed a motion last month to become a ‘food truck friendly’ council and work towards streamlining processes to make it easier for those businesses to operate locally.
A report presented to the council stated interest in food trucks in Ipswich is growing.
Between January to September this year, the council received a total of 158 food business establishment inquiries compared to 127 in the whole of last year.
There are currently 60 food truck operators in Ipswich, up from 53 in 2017.
The administration of a food licence for food trucks is the responsibility of local governments and once licensed, they can operate across Queensland.
“Many councils across Australia have chosen to streamline licencing and permits to support mobile food truck businesses in their regions,” the report notes.
“Council’s current processes are seen as an inhibitor to fostering more of these businesses starting and operating in the region.
“Streamlined processes and the right blend of events and preferred locations has been demonstrated in other regions to create more economic opportunity for new and existing business owners, and also build more community cohesion in the suburbs.”
Food truck operators can currently apply to use the same location 10 times a year but the council was looking at pre-approved sites.
“Within this framework, consideration could be given to ‘premium sites’ where multiple food trucks can operate simultaneously at designated times; and drive-up sites, where food trucks can operate from existing on-street carparking spaces,” the report notes.
“The multi-step and labour-intensive licensing and permit application process can be reviewed with a view to streamline the process to improve customer experience and council efficiency.
“Online permitting and licensing programs have been used successfully in other local government jurisdictions that could be piloted for food truck licensing and permits.
“Council could endorse or call for food truck events to activate community spaces or under-utilised spaces.”
The report also stated the council could publish the locations of food trucks so residents can discover what’s available near them at any time, such as what is done in Brisbane.
“We are not reinventing the wheel,” Cr Madsen said.
“We are taking a step here to ensure that doing business in this sub sector of industry should not be more difficult in Ipswich than anywhere else in south east Queensland.
“I concur raising the potential risks, but other councils have done this and managed the risks and these programs have been successful.”
Ms Czapracki said initiatives set up by Brisbane City Council and Moreton Bay Regional Council made it easier to operate there than in her home town.
The Brisbane council has a dedicated site with contact details for operators and a map where people can quickly see where and when they are setting up.
Ms Czapracki has been in business for 15 years.
“The Brisbane Food Trucks initiative allows you to trade at certain locations they consider premium spots,” she said.
“They’re all within the city limits but they also allows us to trade roadside alongside parks and places like that.
“There’s a lot of vendors in Ipswich that all live in the region but we find it hard to trade here which is disappointing.”
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She was hopeful changes being worked on by Ipswich City Council would unlock more opportunities for fellow food truck operators.
“I don’t think food trucks is something that was on their radar,” she said.
“We’re usually owner-operators and we usually have one or two staff members.
“We’re very small compared to brick and mortar shops.
“We all bring a different dynamic.
“With what we’ve all gone through with COVID, we’re all trying to do the best we can.
“If we have to travel to go and do work, it’s more cost for us.
“If we can trade closer to home and especially within our own communities, that’s what we’ll all strive for.”
Ms Czapracki said the cancellation of events throughout the year had been a huge blow.
“Some of us have teamed up with other food trucks and tried to make it like a little pop-up menu and advertised it on Facebook,” she said.
“That’s pretty much all we’ve been able to do for the past eight months.”
Read more stories by Lachlan McIvor here.