WINNIPEG is poised to recognize that fresh produce and ice cream no longer pose a grave threat to its citizens.
As soon as this spring, the city will ease up on licensing rules governing "temporary food-service establishments" by eliminating some of the red tape surrounding restaurant catering and seasonal kiosks.
On Tuesday, city council's protection and community services committee approved a new package of rules that will exempt low-hazard food stalls from the trouble of applying for licences. This change will affect operators of produce stalls at farmers' markets, ice-cream kiosks or any temporary establishment that sells prepackaged food, said Marcia Fifer, the city's licensing co-ordinator.
Another change will allow temporary food stalls that do require licences -- for example, any kiosk that prepares food on site -- to apply for a seasonal licence instead of being forced to approach the city every two weeks to renew a temporary licence.
A third change will allow restaurants that cater offsite events to apply for a single licence, instead of being forced to approach the city for a temporary licence specific to each event.
"That sounds swell," said Talia Syrie, who owns Main Street restaurant The Tallest Poppy, works as a caterer and was involved in the temporary pop-up restaurant on the Assiniboine River earlier this winter.
"When you apply for a temporary permit, it is like a big red flag. There's a lot of hoops to jump through," she said, pointing out that the changes should also make life easier for catering clients, who tend to have little experience interacting with health inspections. "That can be stressful for people who put on the events. In the restaurant industry, we know how to fill out the forms," Syrie said.
Under the new rules, temporary food-service establishments will still be subject to spot checks by provincial health inspectors, Fifer said. As a whole, the changes are intended to save both the city and businesses time and money, said committee chairman Scott Fielding (St. James-Brooklands).
The changes face executive policy committee approval on Friday and then come before council as a whole on Feb. 27.
They were conducted in consultation with Manitoba Health, the Manitoba Restaurant and Foodservices Association and the Farmers' Market Association of Manitoba.
Less licensing red tape
Proposed changes to food-service licensing in Winnipeg:
Season passes: Temporary food kiosks that serve prepared food will be able to obtain seasonal licences instead of being forced to reapply every 14 days.
"Low-hazard" licence exemptions: Temporary establishments that sell frozen dairy products, prepackaged foods or fresh, uncut fruits or vegetables will no longer need licences.
New catering-licence option: Restaurants that wish to cater off-site will be able to apply for one licence instead of being forced to reapply for a temporary permit every time they cater an event.
-- Source: City of Winnipeg