Vision Vancouver social engineering results in another food cart setback

Post by Mike Klassen in


Food carts in Portlandia: you gotta get outta there!

The amazing IFC Channel series Portlandia ran for six episodes and has been picked up for another ten (hurray!). We've featured several clips here on, simply because the absurd tone of the program feels like life in Vancouver under a Vision government. There is even a rumour going around that Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein modeled their mayor figure after our own Gregor.

What seems to parallel Portlandia and Vancouver politics are the cycling aggro and trendy gestures around surrounding food, such as knowing the name, breed and upbringing of a chicken served at a restaurant. Then there's food carts, a Portland fixture, which serve as a background in this odd scene. Of course, the City of Vancouver is also trying to get more street eats onto select blocks around town.

However, like Vision Vancouver's mishandling of the social and market rental housing at the Olympic Village, where the units were encumbered with a requirement to put unionized police and teachers before anyone else, the heavy hand of social engineering has reemerged.

Vancouver Sun City Hall reporter Jeff Lee has two blog posts – here and here – about what appears to be a revolt by food cart selection committee members against the requirement by vendors to source organic and/or fair trade food stuffs for their cart businesses. Nineteen new carts are being licensed, and instead of the ridiculous lottery system that resulted in heavy criticism by foodies last summer, an expert committee was organized to judge which vendors should be approved.

Vision's social engineering of food businesses ties politically into what we reported earlier: the party's quest to turn the City of Vancouver into the Farm of Vancouver. Former juice king Gregor Robertson must see a big future in imported mango/banana smoothies or locally grown wheatgrass shakes for all citizens.

The organic/fair trade imperative was dubbed "Big Mother" by Jeff Lee. It looks like Big Mother has become another Big Headache for Vision as two of the cart selection committee members have up and quit. Foodies James Tabbert and Amy Eagen until yesterday ran a blog called, which was promoting the food cart cause. But as this "That's All, Folks" post shows, they've packed up their bags and left frustrated with the City's requirements.

In a blog post rant that has since been removed from the site, Tabbert stated:

“The food cart program has become an incestuous relationship between organic food suppliers, high end culinary collectives and faux overpriced “farmers’ markets.” I am disgusted with the correlations I found just by searching the panellist’s information online and cross-referencing it with the shortlisted 52 vendors.”

Oh my. Lee received an email from the vancouverstreeteats crew, and they explained their frustration with the process.

Many were hoping the current selection process would be an improvment over last year’s lottery. Upon being selected to the panel, we reached out to local street food lovers and vendors alike and asked them about their hopes and concerns. We agree with what we heard.

The overwhelming majority were opposed to organic and fair trade menu choices being factors in the selection process. No one was against the idea of fair-trade organic. The apprehension was with it being a criteria for street food menus. In essence, it could very well force prospective vendors to either alter their business plans accordingly or face the likelihood of not being selected. Food politics aside, most agreed that cart owners having little choice but to adhere to these guidelines could increase operating costs and some would have to pass it on to the consumer.

So convenient, tasty and affordable appear to have been trumped by organic, fair trade friendly and politically correct when it comes to Vancouver's new food carts.

Perhaps it was a mistake by City staff to put entrepreneurial types on the committee altogether. If your goal is to impose a political standard for food carts as an overriding objective, then it would be smarter not to invite business people to the table. It seems that the vancouverstreeteats folks misunderstood the goal of the exercise:

We feel the present direction of Vancouver’s program counters the grass-roots, community based environment that has helped define street food in North America. The future rests with the ‘cartrepreneurs’ and ‘cartivores’ to rise above the politics and whatever else is thrown their way. People are craving good food and good company and, I know first hand that you can find exactly that, curb-side dining in Vancouver.

What a concept, eh? Let the public decide what cart food is worth buying or not.

Portlandia might be better to rename itself Cascadia and feature Vancouver as a backdrop. Seems that the absurdity is occurring north of the 49 as well.

- post by Mike. Follow @CityCaucus and @MikeKlassen on Twitter.


Hard to believe that bureaucrats with rules are determining who gets a food cart license and who doesn't. Vancouver has truly gone insane. Why so much red tape? Why not just issue a license to someone who wants one? As long as they pay the fee, go for it. Why are Vision complicating matters so much?

We don't need the food police/progressive socialists at city hall telling us what we should and shouldn't eat. Another reason to get rid of the bums in November.

The 'Organic Tofu-Burger Cart Soviet #469' stands in solidarity with the 'Leavened Bread Soviet # 12' in decrying the methods employed by the 'Blended Meat Sausage Soviet' in their continued efforts to poison the bodies and minds of the downtown workers with un-socialist foodstuffs.

It is your duty to eat healthy and drink happy planet. Report all blended meats and any other suspicious activities to the gorsovet at once.

Clearly, this seemingly incompetent Vision Vancouver dominated Council can do very little right.

From the outset, VV has made a hash (no pun intended) of the Food Cart Programme, the first go-round awarding licenses to vendors who in many cases were unable to follow through on their applications, and in the second round imposing a politically correct (and, perhaps, politically 'corrupt') agenda on the awards process.

Vision Vancouver: inept, mean, possibly corrupt, tone deaf, anti-democratic (although, in this election year, VV & COPE Councillors appear to be listening better than they did the first two years), and deserving of a resounding defeat at the polls come this November.

What happens to the existing food carts? Are they now required to 'bring up their standards' to meet the new requirements?

And I agree that the local farmer's markets are over priced. Most have comparible prices to Whole Foods.

Mike, dude, that clip of the Mayor in your post 'Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein modeled their mayor figure after our own Gregor' was HILARIOUS!
I identified The Gregor (even the voice matched, which was freaky), The Andrea , The Sadhu with the Red Tie,and that would only leave Fred Armisen which I cannot cast yet...:-)

This is no surprise.

Nothing is coming out of the City that doesn't have some ridiculous and tenuous link back to Vision "green" or "sustainable" policy (whatever the definition du jour of those is today).

I am talking to business people ---small and large---who cannot BELIEVE the bs being peddled out of planning/sutainability/goat herding departments at the Hall. Meetings keep growing as more departments are asked in, more reports are requested and more red tape added.

This administration cannot make an IMPORTANT
decision if their lives depended on it.

Sheer lunacy. As for Portlandia, art imitating life right here in good old Vangroover.

Too funny. So funny and sad it hurts!

20,000 green jobs, one food cart at a time...

and where fairness abounds..lottery??

I didn't realize that the term lottery had exceptions...

"This administration cannot make an IMPORTANT decision if their lives depended on it."

Couldn't agree more, and add that when the lives of those more vulnerable folk depend on leadership, decisions and actions that actually impact life & limb, this Admin FAILS even more miserably.

ie. Global TV reported tonight on the Pandora deathbed flophouse and kudos to Klassen pushing for accountability.

Sorry, this post was about food carts - don't we get it by now that Vision knows best how and what we should all enjoy and eat? Yes, even food carts.

Should we expect anything different from these social-engineering fanatics?

I do not like being ordered by politicians about what I should eat.
In fact, being ordered makes me want to regularly eat a nitrate filled hot dog, with a side of candy floss and a really,really over sugared pop for a beverage.
Something I have once a year at the PNE.

The street food scene I have enjoyed in many countries of the world obviously will not exist here.

Too eclectic and fun.

The only thing I want to have regulated is that people running the carts do not give customers food poisoning. Food Safe.

Mayor Gregor says he has no money for homeless shelters, but spends $2M on a new ride at city-owned PNE. Where are his priorities?

I know where $2M of my tax dollars could have been better spent:

- crumbling Burrard bridge. chunks of concrete falling to the ground.

- new aquatic centre

- new homeless shelters

- new social housing

- pay down Olympic village debt

- seismic upgrading of city hall

- lower tax hikes

list goes on and on.

I would like to see some of these food carts set up in the still somewhat barren central square at Olympic Village. To be honest, I don't really care what they are selling, as long as they also sell hot beverages. More than a year after the Olympics, there is still nowhere to get a coffee while trying to decide whether to move into the new community. This is no way to market a new neighbourhood.

Micheal, with all due respect, if you were a new cart business owner, perhaps with a family to feed, would you take that risk....

Perhaps Mr. Rennie should consider opening up a coffee stand...and hire someone to run it..... I'm sure the City would bend the rules and give him a temporary license.... that might be worth a try..or maybe yourself, I'm sure there are many students looking for summer work...

why don't you come by and eat at Rennie's here at the Olympic Village. We are offering a great selection of foodstuffs for the potential buyer. Come choose from a selection of state-of-the-art foods at 30% off the regular market prices.

We offer several tantalizing dishes including our signature 'LEED' Burgers -
LEED Silver Burger - lean
LEED Gold Burger - LEED silver with added cheese
LEED Platinum Burger - loaded with cheese and toppings
All burgers come with sustainable fries

Various pricing options available for teachers and public servants with proof of voting preference.

That's Rennie's food cart - available only at the Olympic Village, and we can only guarantee the meat while supplies last.

The only way you can have a food cart in Vancouver is to pull it with a Bicycle! Lots of room to set up on the bike lanes though.


You want food safety regulated as to avoid short term poisoning but you don't want food regulated that causes long term poisoning. Makes sense.

Mexican Food.... think you missed my point....and and my sarcasm...

sorry george. Was trying to laugh with you. If I missed, I missed.

no boo
we want government to mind their own business when it comes to what we eat...freedom of choice, but we do want government to safeguard against food favorite news shot of street carts shows the food handler taking the money, and then handing the food to many dirty hands touched that money...
I wonder...

"When a pullet is plump, she's tender." - Chu Chin Chow

From the Vatican website:

"The Food at Hollyhock

Meals are simple, fresh, and sumptuous. Our healthy, organic vegetarian fare features many ingredients from our abundant gardens located a step outside our kitchen door.

A typical dinner menu includes organic greens with our own fresh herb dressings, an array of home-made ethnically inspired west coast fusion dishes, and of course, dessert. Weekly wild seafood dinners and beachside oyster barbecues are a memorable treat.

We're proud to serve 100% organic grains and 90% organic produce that is local whenever possible. Organic herbs, flowers, greens, berries and vegetables are harvested daily from the Hollyhock garden".

90% organic? Don't forget to pick up a copy of Linda Solomon's cookbook (29.95 +HST, they take VISA and AE) at the gift shop. Your tax-deductible $250
-400/night includes meals.

Oh, I forgot to mention. The carts have to be either electric or bio-diesel. And locally produced from organic fair-trade stainless steel. (Note to self: when selling salad-wraps near City Hall, get the money up front).

Further proof, if needed, that Mayors and Councillors get caught up spinning their wheels on the sidelines while events move on apace. One almost feels sorry for them. They suffer endless nit-picking criticism and abuse from a bunch of know-it-alls on the one hand. On the other hand their supporters won't shut up,"Where's my dozens of social-housing projects, why are oil tankers still on the coast, you said we would get 17% across-the-board but Ballem's busting our balls, etc."

Anyone who has ever worked at a job requiring actual physical labour will be intimately familiar with the food-carts (we always called them lunch-wagons)which appear at worksites across the city at shift change, coffee break and lunch. Believe it or not, this has been a profitable business for years, even without the advice, expertise and regulatory zeal of the hopelessly out-of-touch members of Vancouver City Council.

Does this mean there will be no mini-donuts?

Very sad....


What kind of wimp barbeques an oyster? Eat them raw or go sit at the kiddies' table.

As for the 90% organic produce that may cover things like plastic bottled fruit juice made from bulk imported tropical concentrate. Fair trade, of course, so the pickers could be paid as much as 40% of the value of a Linda Solomon cook book per day.

Or it may be locally sourced BS.

As I understand it, the "wild" seafood dinners and oyster bbqs (vegetarians are SOL, presumably) are memorable in large part due to the ceremony involved. Before eating the animals everyone participates in a smudging or purification ceremony led by a shaman (with a business card and a website). One apologizes to the spirit of the fish or slimy bit in question, thanks the Great Spirit for Its bounty, and then drums and chants for a bit before chowing down.

"I weep for you", the Walrus said:
"I deeply sympathize".
With sobs and tears he sorted out
Those of the largest size,
Holding his pocket-handkerchief
Before his streaming eyes.

Vision councillor Heather Deal is truly delusional. Look at one of her latest tweets regarding food carts

Does she not realize how silly she looks and that people are now laughing at her, not with her. This whole food cart program has been a joke, but obviously Heather never got the memo.

with regrets to Shirley Temple.....

Vision Vancouver's in my soup
Gregor and Deal have got me hooped
Gosh oh gee but I got done
Dealing with councilmen one by one

In every bowl of soup I see
Meggs and Ballem a-watching me
They makes me jump right through the hoops
Just to serve a bowl of soup

If I get to serve the big bad mayor
I'll remain a little coy
I'll serve him processed cheese whiz
And tell him its made of soy

When the day's over and I'm done
I count out lost profits just for fun
Thats when I know I'm in the poop
'Cause Vision Vancouver's in my soup


what I want politicians to recognize is that we are (for the most part) adults.
If we choose to eat something that is technically not approved by the food police so what!

What I want is variety that is not dictated by whom knows what person on the selection community.

In the free wheeling market of many cities in the world it has worked itself out.

Some of the best food is actually food that is good for you.

Vegetables, small amounts of meat, fantastic flavours.

Oh, and some deep fried.

Vancouver seems to make everything into a political issue drowning in bureaucracy.

Is there a committee that examines the socially responsible paper clip?

I loved it!
Vision oink, oink, in my soup...

So food is part and parcel to social change it would seem.

This feeds into a bigger concern that has bothered me for some time in that there is the perception that in order to eat healthy, you must eat to a politically correct ideal which inevitably leads to the consumer confronting higher food costs to eat at the ideal level. Whole Foods / Capers are perfect examples of this food elitism.

Having said that, I bumped into a previous employee at Whole Foods who mentioned he had a good benefits package.

Why does it cost more to buy organic? You would think the demand for good quality food creates ample room for supply, yet the cost of organic comes remains at a premium. Those who struggle to make ends meet can buy pesticide laden, sewer sludge grown produce and half-off highly processed industrial food at the cost of their health, for what's available during the weekly grocery special offers.

It further entrenches the stratification of society. The perception is that the better off can afford to eat healthy and for everyone else there is always store brand canned soup.

Just like the higher cost of fuel and transportation. Driving a personal car will be the domain of the better off, for everyone else there are dedicated bike lanes.

Re. Whole Food / Capers stores.
I shop at these stores. When the old Capers was in town, the prices were acceptable, on the high but acceptable, local foods, senior days, customer apprecaition days, many promotions, friendly staff. The moment Whole Foods (read the American food chain) took over, the prices were hiked 30 to 50 % up. All the promotions are gone, you'll never know where this food is coming from, the Cambie store is a dressed up - Superstore, only way, way more expensive, and what do they sell? Over priced Happy Planet "organic" pish made from gawd knows what concentrated juices( read juice dust) mixed with water as super-juice and mixtures of peas/ carrots and spices as soup. Knowing who's behind these products and how they duped a whole city, by lying to us so often, I wouldn't believe an iota of their statements on the quality and provenience of these organics.
Buyer be aware.

I can add a third level to your observations Dennis....

The very poor can shop at a food recovery organization... Quest

We get to buy food at slightly lower prices, but the catch is that the fruits and veggies are almost spoiled, and the dry goods are at, or past expiry date...

@ Michelle:

I agree with you, once Whole Foods stepped in, the prices increased and the product, well, not all orgnic. You need to read as some of it is labeled as 'sustainable' - but not organic.

The really sad thing is we, people, brought us to where we are now.

At one point, produce, wheat, livestock, etc were all 'organic'. And then the move to grow everything faster and bigger came along, in the name of civilization (or greed) and now we are trying to step back.

I grew up on a farm. Our chickens, pigs, cows, ducks roamed more or less freely. We had an extensive veg garden. I honestly can't remember the first time we 'ate out'. Packaged foods were rare in the household.

Now, it is all about fast and 'convenient'. And you cannot help notice now the rate of incident in cancer, food allergies, things like ADD etc., have greatly increased.

They are now looking at food colour additives being directly linked to kids with ADD and ADHD. A trigger.

I went to a meatless diet in 1993 due to a health issue. The one thing I noticed - within about 2 years, my allergies were more or less gone. Before that, I was popping Claretin like skittles.

Come spring, my boyfriend and I start our planting. We have quite a large garden at his place and I keep tomatoes, lettuce, and herbs on my balcony. If nothing else - it is very relaxing!

Hi George:

One of my favorite produce shops is Sunrise Market on Gore and Hastings...or is it Cordova?

As well, the veg markets on Commercial Drive. I love the selection of peppers the vendors get.

You can find great deals and organic (if wanted) at both.

Hi Max,

Absolutely agree and shop on Commercial Drive a great deal, worth the 2 bus transfers to get there....

My point when I made my comment was connecting the political involvement with the food chain..

Quest started out as a food culling resource...for low income, here is a 2 hour old tweet...

questexchange profile

questexchange Intriguing. RT @gvof Liberals propose first national food policy as part of their rural platform: #elxn41 @M_Ignatieff 2 hours ago reply....

everything is political these days...

normally I would view their tweets to find out what goods are in stock and whether the 45 minute bus ride worth the trip..

Oink Oink??? No more Tofu Consomme for you!

My grandmother who grew up in a farm in Vancouver (yep, Vancouver) would be laughing hysterically at this line of comments.

She died at 104 and was most likely the prototype of what these social engineers would like.

Never drove, walked everywhere, grew food in her backyard.

She was also dirt poor, had to rely on handouts from wealthier members of her family.
Raised 2 children after her husband was killed in World War 1.

She told me the two best days in her life after this were:

getting a stove that wasn't wood burning
and a fridge that didn't need blocks of ice.

oh: and a way to do laundry that didn't entail her down on her hands and knees scrubbing.

So I decided to do a bit of reading and found that this:

'...the requirement by vendors to source organic and/or fair trade food stuffs for their cart businesses.'

is just lying. It's not a requirement. It's one of 10 categories for which you get points.

This is not the first time you've intentionally misrepresented or lied to make your point. Shame.

Vancouver food cart vendors are unhappy about a new request that they primarily use local ingredients, the CBC's Alan Waterman reports.

I agree Chris. I can tell same hard lived stories. These Vision punks wants us to turn OUR clocks back 100 years so THEY could live and lead us MORE EASILY. Up there on their farming Hollyhock utopia bought by monies inherited from down to earth real hard work- of others exploited throughout the 'industrial revolution'. Now the kids want to clean up their act with their own 'green' revolution and of course with them at the helm cashing in. As if it was hard to figure it out.

Check out!

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