The Hamilton City Council is rethinking its rules around where mobile food sellers can operate with a large part of the central city currently off limits to food trucks.
Under current rules, food trucks are not allowed to trade inside the central city bordered by Victoria, Anglesea, Knox and London streets. A reworking of the council’s public places policy could see mobile food shops in the city centre – but only if they are part of an event or market.
Melissa Renwick, president of Hospitality New Zealand’s Waikato branch, said the organisation was supportive of any move to enhance vibrancy and business in the central city. Some hospitality members are wary, however, of the cost advantage food trucks had over bricks and mortar eateries.
“There is absolutely no doubt we would all love to see a number of events [and] food trucks as part of these events coming to the city,” commented Renwick.
“Food trucks definitely add to that vibrancy, they are another drawcard to get people to the city. But what I suppose we are really conscious of is not allowing these changes and policy to allow for food trucks to become the event in themselves.”
Hamilton deputy mayor Geoff Taylor said he was grappling with the issue, having initially taken a liberal ‘anything goes’ attitude to creating vibrancy in the central city. Given the current economic outlook, the council’s focus should be on avoiding changes which threatened hospitality businesses.
“Post COVID, I am much more aware of the pressures on bars and restaurants and cafes,” Taylor said.
Councillor Maxine van Oosten suggested the council trial food trucks in the city centre as part of upcoming events. Council staff could then evaluate feedback from central city businesses as well as related data. Such a trial would help the council make a robust decision based on evidence rather than anecdotal evidence and fear.