Ipswich City Council has committed to becoming a food truck friendly council.
The Economic and Industry Development Committee this week endorsed an earlier notice of motion from Cr Jacob Madsen and agreed to work towards streamlining council processes to make it easier for food trucks to operate in Ipswich.
Cr Madsen, who has championed this issue, told the committee he had been approached by a food truck operator from Willowbank who said it was easier to operate in Brisbane and Moreton than in her home city.
Mayor Teresa Harding said council was committed to supporting local food and beverage providers of all types.
“I think this is a great initiative to streamline processes and make things easier for food trucks to do business,” Mayor Harding said.
“At the same time, council understands that our bricks and mortar establishments are key to the employment opportunities and vibrancy of our city.
“Our city is big enough and growing quickly enough to support a diverse food and beverage sector with a range of offerings for residents and visitors alike.”
A report presented to committee outlined the economic and lifestyle opportunities food trucks provide; the current state for food truck licensing and operation in the Ipswich region; and the policy and procedure changes required make council considered ‘food truck friendly’.
The report also highlighted opportunities for streamlining council processes to be both ‘food truck friendly’ and ‘small business friendly’.
There are currently 60 food truck operators in Ipswich, up from 53 in 2017.
Interest in food trucks in Ipswich is growing; in the period January to September 2020 council received 158 food business establishment enquiries, compared to 127 for all of 2019 (an increase of approximately 65 per cent).
“Food trucks provide economic development opportunities in the regions they operate in,” the report said.
“For food and hospitality business owners they provide lower barriers to entry than brick-and-mortar establishments, allowing up-and-coming chefs, cooks and business owners to test their offering and develop a following before committing to high overheads and fixed premises.
“Lower overhead costs also mean building a profitable business faster which in turn creates employment opportunities and greater returns to the owners; which in turn can be reinvested in the business or into the local economy as discretionary spending.
“Food trucks can also activate public and community spaces and provide residents with unique and creative food experiences. Food truck activations, whether at events or pop-up roadside, foster community interaction and engagement; nurturing goodwill, congeniality and civic pride.”
Committee Chair Cr Nicole Jonic said the concept of providing more opportunities for food truck operators in the city was worthwhile.
“This is an easy entry point for some people, in comparison to renting a shop in our city or opening a café or restaurant as well. I think it definitely needs to be facilitated,” Cr Jonic said.
Food truck operators can currently apply to use the same location 10 times a year, but council was looking at pre-approved sites, taking into consideration the location of competing businesses and safe operation for the trucks, and for motorists and pedestrians.
Cr Madsen said he was confident council could manage the risks associated with the program. He noted there had been considerable collaboration between the engineering, health, environment and tourism departments of council.
“We are not reinventing the wheel. 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,” Cr Madsen said.
“I concur raising the potential risks, but other councils have done this and managed the risks and these programs have been successful.”
On 1 October, Ipswich City Council signed a charter to become Queensland’s first Small Business Friendly Council.
+ As part of council’s upcoming festivities for the opening of the Nicholas Street Precinct and Tulmur Place, local food trucks will be participating in the Future Food Flavours event on Saturday 5 December.