Toronto ticketed the ice cream man! Is a food service truck “curbside pickup” or not?

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Screaming for ice cream apparently prohibited in Ontario municipalities...

Meet Peter Berbatiotis, who operates Toronto Softee, an ice cream truck. Recently, Peter was dropping off ice cream treats at the homes of about a dozen would-be attendees for a child’s birthday party, a party that had been cancelled due to the Wuhan virus.

But while making his rounds, Peter was pulled over and ticketed by bylaw – even though curbside delivery was approved in Ontario on May 11. Apparently, Peter’s sin was operating too close to a park, which is allegedly verboten (and depending on what happens in court, he might have to pay a fine of up to $10,000!)

I know what you’re saying – that’s a lot of “apparentlys” and “allegedlys.” Indeed, but that is the other part of this story: nobody in charge seems to know what’s what when it comes to the delivery of ice cream.

I reached out to the City of Toronto, but never heard back. Meanwhile, when I reached out the to Ontario’s ministry of Ministry of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade, here’s the response I received from a spokesman:

“Business owners, including those that operate ice cream trucks, should review the list of essential business which are authorized to stay open, determine whether they fit into any of the categories and, if they do, make a business decision as to whether to open. For example, businesses that primarily sell food, such as restaurants, are currently only able to operate by take-out, drive-through, or delivery. Businesses should review the sector-specific guidelines from Ontario’s Health and Safety Associations. These include guidelines for restaurant and food services released by the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development.”

In other words, the province is essentially stating it is sitting this one out, letting the courts figure out if mobile ice cream vending is legal. This is what is lawyers call a “dereliction of duty.”

Whatever happened to Premier Doug Ford’s promise that Ontario is “open for business”? Whatever happened to his pledge that he would eliminate red tape? Because those pronouncements seem like bad jokes when bylaw targets the Good Humor Man on a hot spring day for what appears to be no good reason…

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