Ottawa food truck 'Bite This' fighting order to remove landscaping and tables
It's called “Bite This,” a mobile food truck in trendy Westboro who's owner feels "bitten" by Ottawa city hall.
The city argues that much of the stationary truck, and its tables and landscaping, are actually on city property and is trying to come up with a plan to smooth a path forward.
The truck, located at 181 Richmond Road, is a popular spot in Westboro with its colorful decor and tasty food.
But just one complaint is enough to raise questions about whether this truly is a food truck and why it's on city property.
It's a bright burst of color in an otherwise blah sea of buildings.
A bright burst of flavor, too, according to its many loyal customers, like John Charlebois.
“It's a great location and the food is awesome,” says Charlebois, with a hot steaming bowl of food in hand, “and the community loves her.”
That "her" is the owner of the stationary food truck. Donna Kyd has operated a few food trucks over the years. This was to be her last.
“I'm 59, it's my last hurrah,” says Kyd, “I'm doing it because I like the food, I like the people and I like creating. I’m not doing it for the money, that’s for sure.”
But it appears that Bite This is taking a bite out of city property. The food truck has actually been at that location on Richmond Road for 5 years. But it wasn't until they applied for a minor variance to build a porch and patio on the business next door, which they also own, that they discovered the tables outside on the ground, even the large boulders that accentuate the surroundings, were not on their property but rather on city property.
And a neighbour has questioned whether the stationary food truck is actually a truck. Kyd and her husband Alan says every year, inspectors with city bylaw came to review their license application and not one questioned the layout of their space.
“Will we have to remove all these elements or pay an annual encroachment fee,” says Kyd, “for that rock, and that rock, and this bar, and that table? That's what we're up against.”
The Kyds have a meeting this Friday with the city to try to find a resolution. In the meantime, more than 2-thousand customers have signed a petition to keep Bite This where it is. One petition opposes the city’s order to remove all the landscaping elements. The other supports the business’ use of board and batten siding to cover up the original graffiti-covered trailer.
“It is nice to have these sorts of down to earth businesses,” says customer Conner Duffin, “and they're doing something a bit different here.”
“They can't go away, they need to stay here,” adds customer Lindsay Gagnon, “It is known as the place known as funky chairs in Westboro. They need to stay.”
The councillor for the area is working with the owner but says at the same time, businesses can’t ignore rules.
“I think most residents of Ottawa would understand that you can't take city property and begin operating a business on it,” says Ottawa councilor Jeff Leiper, “We love Bite This. It's a delightful oasis on Richmond Road but we have to find a way that they can operate legally given they are on our property.”
Leiper is hoping it could just be a matter of paying an annual encroachment fee but he says this cannot open the door to every food truck to think they can operate on city property without permission.