Extend pop-up patio program until fall 2021, council urged
Restaurants and breweries should soon be able to move ahead with winterizing their temporary popup patios.
In mid- September, Vancouver city councillors unanimously approved extending the program through the first fall and winter of COVID-19.
City staff are recommending councillors take the next steps to approve an extension of the temporary pop-up patio program until Oct. 31, 2021.
The program has been a popular one in Vancouver. The provincial Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch has issued 278 approvals for pop up patios; 227 for restaurants, 51 for bars and breweries.
Ian Tostenson, president and CEO of the B.C. Restaurant and Foodservices Association, said restaurants have welcomed the pop-up patio program not just in Vancouver but throughout the region. In some cases, it has allowed restaurants to get to 70 or 80 per cent of their capacity.
“I think we're seeing a real enthusiasm all across Metro Vancouver with all the municipalities trying to accommodate this and do something,” he said.
Restaurants also like knowing the temporary patios are in place until at least next October.
“They have some certainty now,”
Tostenson said. “They can make those investments now over a year versus wondering what's going to happen in the spring.”
The BCRFA represents more than 3,000 businesses and describes itself as the foremost advocate in the province for restaurants and food services.
From the City of Vancouver's perspective, winterizing a patio by adding a cover supported by posts creates additional floor space that
could violate the allowable FSR for the business.
A report to council says the bylaw needs to be amended to allow the planning department to approve “the enclosure of a temporary patio and allow the patio to better operate over fall and winter.
“This would allow patios on private property for uses such as brewery and distillery lounges, retail stores, cabarets, and in some cases, neighbourhood grocery stores and restaurants, which currently are not permitted and existing permits for patios to be extended,” a report to council says.
Another report said that about “75 per cent of the temporary patios ... are situated in the curb lane of the street. This is a relatively new patio type for the city of Vancouver to implement at such significant scale.”
The report said it's important to make sure patios are safe and to take into account how other street users are affected.
“Patios will need to be reviewed, and in some cases adjusted or removed, based on seasonal or other operational considerations,” the report said.
Depending on which option council approves, the extension of the pop-up program could mean a loss of city revenue of $400,000 or $1.1 million generated by its regular patio program.
Earlier this year, the LCRB fasttracked approval of expanding drinking areas and waived the usual application fee. Then the province said local governments could get one pre-approval for all bars, lounges and breweries. The city waived its $99 fee on TESA applications for liquor primary businesses.
“To support local businesses during the on-going COVID-19 pandemic, staff recommend that the city confirm its support in writing to the Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch for extension of temporary expanded service area authorizations at liquor serving businesses in the city, pre-approve all new applications, and waive the city's fee for comment on applications,” one of the reports said.