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Editor's column: Richmond is hungry for a food truck scene

Richmond News editor Eve Edmonds thinks Richmond is long overdue a dose of food truck culture, despite the recent spat over turf in Steveston
The Shameless Buns food truck is a converted mini bus styled like a Filipino Jeepney. They've been paying rent to park one to two times weekly at Steveston Hub on private property in Richmond.

Some topics are just too sacred to talk about — even in an opinion column.

Race and religion are fair game, but don’t go messin’ around with things like food trucks in Steveston. Judging by our Facebook comments, you could get your house torched for that.

Regardless, being someone who can’t keep herself out of a squabble, I will address the issue — but as Switzerland.

Here’s what’s causing the hullaballoo: A couple of food trucks, Shameless Buns and Salty’s Lobster Shack, recently set up business in the heart of Steveston.

The city says that offends city bylaws.

Councillors say they like the idea of food trucks, just not in that location. They say the issue has to do with parking regulations, but Shameless says the real concern is some coffee shops and restaurants fear competition from the trucks.

There is also valid concern about traffic and congestion. It’s hard enough to drive around and find parking in Steveston on a weekend as it is. (Although, why people choose to drive down there anyway is another column.)

The city’s solution is to ask (with the threat of having their licences pulled if they refuse) the trucks to roll on down a couple of blocks to Britannia Heritage Shipyards.

Salty’s Lobster Shack has done just that. And last Saturday,  I happened to be going by there and it actually looked like a nice set-up. The truck didn’t need a loud generator spewing exhaust to inhale with your food, there are picnic tables, washrooms nearby and, most importantly to the business, there was a lineup.

That said, it’s not exactly a food truck scene, something I don’t think we’ve ever really had in Richmond.

My first introduction to food truck culture was in Ottawa -- the ByWard Market at 1 a.m., to be specific.

We’d just left (I won’t say staggered out of) the Chateau Lafayette. And there on the street, appearing like a vision, was a lineup of food trucks. We went to one selling donairs — they were to die for.

Now for a little context, the Laff is/was a classic dive bar with small round tables with red, terry towel table clothes and cheap, cold draft. (At least it was, but this was almost 30 years ago now.)

It stands in the proud tradition of Canadian dive bars I’ve known. Not like I’ve sought them out, but I happen to have made my acquaintance with a few.

In Medicine Hat it was the Royal Hotel, in Calgary the St. Louis. I can’t remember the name of the one in Prince George, but we went there on our days off from tree planting.

They’re fun, loud (at the time smoky) places with plenty of cheap, cold draft. (Oh, did I already mention the draft?)

What they didn’t have is food, at least anything you’d actually want to eat.

There was often a big jar of pickled eggs on a shelf behind the bar, looking rather like something out of a Halloween display.

Apart from the eggs, there might be vending machine where you could get a bag of chips. Actually, the Royal, being the classy joint it was, had free, extremely salty popcorn, which of course made that draft go down even faster.

The point being, people stagger out of these places starving, hence the lineup of food trucks outside the Laff.

 When it comes to food trucks in Steveston, the problem (which really is not a problem) is that our bars actually serve great food. Not to mention the fact we have plenty of other wonderful eateries as well.

Regardless, there is something fun about food truck culture, eating outside, on the street or at a bench with a view — of which there are plenty in Steveston.

I won’t weigh in on exactly where they should park, but I will be lining up once they’re there.