Mobile Cooking Operations

Mobile Cooking Operations (MCOs), including Food Trucks, are gaining in popularity. Learn more about The City's requirements for running a MCO.
Photo of food truck operator handing customer her order



General Information

What is a Mobile Cooking Operation (MCO)?

A Mobile Cooking Operation is a vehicle that may be parked or sited on a temporary basis, has a secondary heat source (whether gas, propane, or electric) and is used to produce, cook, sell or distribute food.

What kind of MCOs are there?

Units that would qualify as a MCO include, but are not limited to the following:

  • food trucks
  • doughnut shack
  • hot dog carts
  • vending truck
  • chip truck
  • burger wagon
Background for MCO Permit Requirements

In May 2018, Alberta Municipal Affairs issued a Joint Code Interpretation for the application of the Safety Codes Act to MCOs. The rationale for this interpretation is that MCOs provide the same services as businesses that are based in buildings, and as such, should be inspected in a similar manner, ensuring minimum safety requirements.

This Joint Code Interpretation is applicable throughout the province of Alberta.

Fire Safety Plan Information and Agreement (pdf)

Safety Codes Permit Requirements

What permits do I need to operate?

You will require Safety Codes approval to operate your MCO unit in Red Deer. To obtain this approval, complete the Mobile Cooking Operation Permit Application and Requirement List, and submit to Inspections and Licensing on the third floor of City Hall. 

Mobile Cooking Operation Permit Application (pdf)
Mobile Cooking Operation (MCO) Requirement List (pdf)

If you do not own the MCO unit, a Letter of Authorization will need to be provided.

Letter of Authorization (pdf)

Additionally, a Fire Safety Plan is required for every location you intend to operate from. Provided below is information from the Provincial Standata and a general Fire Safety Plan that may be used by signing the agreement form. 

Fire Safety Plan Information and Agreement (pdf)

*You may develop and submit your own Fire Safety Plan.


After your permit has been reviewed and approved by a Safety Codes Officer (SCO), it will only be issued when all applicable subsidiary permits are in place (electrical, plumbing, etc.).

Inspections for MCOs

  • Are scheduled every Tuesday and Thursday afternoon at 2 p.m., unless other arrangements have been made with the SCO. 
  • Will be the conducted in the northwest corner of the Pidherney Centre parking lot (by the skate park), at 4785 43 Street.
  • Once all permits have been inspected and approved, you will receive a Completion Report. 
  • Re-inspection fees will apply if you do not show up when scheduled

The Completion Report

  • signifies your unit meets Safety Codes regulations, and is safe to operate
  • is to remain with the MCO
  • is valid from year to year**

Annual inspections are not required unless alterations or modifications are made to the MCO.

** If alterations or modifications are made to the MCO:

  • new permit(s) would be required to accommodate the modification(s) (ex. a new Gas Permit is required if switching from propane to natural gas)
  • an inspection of this work is required to ensure compliance (inspections are included with the permit fee. Re-inspection fees may apply)
  • once approved, a new Completion Report will be issued to include the new permit(s) for the modification(s). 
MCOs using deep fryers, griddles, etc.

Units using deep fryers, griddles (or similar) in the preparation of their food often produce heat, smoke and grease laden vapours. To ensure the optimum function and safety of your unit, please ensure the following are contained within your unit:

  • A fan interlock ensuring that the exhaust fan can only operate when properly sized openable closures that are used for food service have been opened.
  • Fire suppression systems must be installed as per NFPA 96 and be serviced within the last six months by a qualified person with certificate of service maintained with the MCO.
  • Exhaust hood and ducts must be installed as per NFPA 96 and inspected weekly and cleaned by a qualified person as required with certificate of cleaning maintained with the MCO. Typically a cleaning in the fall or spring is adequate to accommodate cooking process for the season.
  • A “K” Class portable extinguisher serviced in the last 12 months is required for cooking processes. (A 3A-10BC portable extinguisher is acceptable where cooking process does not produce grease laden vapors.)

Business Licence Requirements

Do I need a Business Licence?

If your Mobile Cooking Operation is only operating at an approved special event or market, you will not require a Business Licence.

Any MCO operating outside the hours of an event or market will require a Business Licence.

Refer to our Business Licences web page to apply.

Where can I operate?

A MCO can operate in the following locations:

  • on commercial or industrial private property with the property owner's permission;
  • downtown metered parking stalls or within a City-owned parking lot, with the issuance of a Use of Streets Permit (Restrictions apply, see Schedule D of the Business Licence Bylaw for details);
  • arenas, Bower Ponds, the Collicutt Centre or other City parks, with the approval of the Safe & Healthy Communities department.

Mobile Cooking Operations are not permitted to operate in residential locations, as this would generate additional traffic (pedestrian and vehicular), noise, garbage, etc. to adjacent and neighbouring properties.

Contact Information

For more information, contact Inspections and Licensing at 403-342-8190 or