‘We should have more input’: Food trucks ask city for discounted parking rates

A pair of food truck owners are asking the city to give them a break on parking rates due to a delayed start to the season and declining numbers of downtown workers.

Darryl Leiman has been selling smokies, hamburgers, and his signature french fries for nearly 30 years at Goldie’s Fries, one of Winnipeg’s longest-running food trucks.

Leiman is ready to get his season started, however the weather is not cooperating this year. “My truck looks good, I’ve got it all ready to roll, but I’m not sitting in my truck when it’s -20 C in the morning, the city has got to understand that.”

Leiman wants the City of Winnipeg to give him a discount on the parking rates he pays at Old Market Square, where he spends most of his weekdays in the summer.

He said the Winnipeg Parking Authority is asking $2,050 to for the use of any two city parking spots over seven months, from Apr. 1 – Oct. 31. But this year’s unusually cold weather is keeping Leiman from setting up at the beginning of April as he usually does.

He added declining numbers of downtown workers is also affecting his business. “You have all these people that used to work downtown, they’re all working at home like my wife is, and they’re quite content working at home,” said Leiman. “Downtown is not the same.”

It’s a sentiment echoed by Don Campbell, owner of Mikkey’s hot dog cart. “Our biggest problem was that the parking people are the ones that tell us when we have to buy our permits,” he said.

Campbell feels that Winnipeg’s food truck vendors should have more flexibility on when their parking permits begin and end. “Sunday we’re going to have a snowstorm … we should have more input as to when we want to but our permits because were paying every minute of the meter.”

Both Campbell and Leiman are asking the city for a discount on April’s parking rates, or for the ability to start paying later in April.

Leiman also said he would like to see a flat fee charged for the entire year, as the parking authority will often charge extra for spots in November if the weather holds out. “Just charge one fee for the year, and then if a person wants to go out in the cold like I like to, let them go out and try to make a living,” he said.

Campbell has spoken with the Winnipeg Parking Authority, who seemed amenable to his situation.

“They said if you want a discount, contact the city, they’re giving discounts to all the patios this year, you guys are kind of like that, you’re seasonal.”

City council has waived the administrative costs for businesses registering for they city’s temporary patio program until March 2024.

The city has helped food truck vendors in the past, offering a 10 per cent rebate on parking fees in 2021.

“On June 24, 2021, Council approved a 10 percent rebate to all food truck vendors who were issued a mobile vendor permit in 2021, as well as to all permits purchased for the remainder of 2021 (a total refund of $966.80 + GST per permit),” said the city in an email to CTV News. “Mobile vendor permits were also prorated for the month of April 2020, as the permits were not available until April 28 of that year. No rebate was offered for 2022 or 2023.”

Campbell said the city is now listening to him and Leiman. “They’ve now come back saying ‘send us something in writing and we will look at it, this seems very reasonable.'”

He’s optimistic the situation will be resolved before the weather warms up.

“It’s nice that they’re willing to work with us,” said Campbell. “They don’t want to lose us as iconic vendors, we’ve both been in the industry for a long time.”

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