Hungry? Starting May 31, food trucks will return to the University of Calgary campus, bringing an eclectic mix of meals for hungry students and staff outside the MacEwan Student Centre. These diners on wheels first appeared in Calgary in 2011 following a campaign targeted at city officials by YYC Food Trucks creator James Boettcher.
A long-time restaurant owner, Boettcher first took interest in creating food trucks when he was looking to expand his gelato business outside his shop.
“It started with my parent company, Fiasco Gelato,” said Boettcher. “We were keen on doing it for our company for our outdoor events every summer. It was a little bit more efficient and had a little bit more of a profile.”
He had seen similar food truck programs in other cities and noticed it brought together a diversity of people.
“When I traveled, I saw the community that revolved around these food trucks being in these cities,” said Boettcher. “It became more than just food in a truck, it became about the community around it.”
His travels began a process, starting in 2010, that looked to legalize food trucks in Calgary. Many city officials were skeptical, forcing Boettcher to educate them on the issue.
“It’s pretty complicated when you want to go through the City to change bylaws. There were so many different people who were involved in the process, like Alberta Health Services, City Parks and City Roads,” said Boettcher. “In the end, it just came down to a bit of an education in the fact that it wasn’t as difficult as it maybe first appeared to be. In the end, we were able to answer their questions.”
Food trucks were given the green light in 2011, with an initial fleet of seven trucks on Calgary roads. That number has since expanded to 35, with 20 of them owned by YYC Food Trucks.
The different trucks have diverse menus, with dishes ranging from greasy french fries to more upscale items like steak sandwiches.
Boettcher said that the community revolving around these trucks is the most important part of sustaining his business.
“The more we’re mindful of our community, the greater goals we can achieve,” he said.