British Columbia

Richmond councillor pushes for quick turnaround on patio expansion permits

Richmond councillor Kelly Greene is putting forward a motion to streamline the application and permitting process so the city’s cafes, pubs and restaurant patios can temporarily expand during the COVID-19 crisis

Using outdoor space allows for physical distancing

Vancouver council recently voted on fast-tracking expansion of outdoor seating for restaurants. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

A motion to streamline the application and permit process in Richmond, B.C., aims to help the city's cafes, pubs and restaurant patios temporarily expand during the COVID-19 crisis. 

Coun. Kelly Greene, who is putting forward the motion, says ensuring a clear and simple path for adding temporary patio space — which will allow for outdoor physical distancing — will help the city's small businesses survive and recover as they adjust to the new normal.

The food service industry has been among the hardest hit during the pandemic, due to take-out only restrictions under the public health officer's orders.

"I've had a lot of people from the community reach out to me, both residents and business owners. And I want to make sure we're responsive to what the community's needs are," said Greene.

Greene will be bringing forward the resolution Tuesday at council's General Purposes Committee meeting. Discussions are already underway with business owners as to how servers can safely distance from patrons.

Greene is also hoping to get more clarity from the province with respect to work safety for staff.

The move comes a week after Vancouver city council unanimously approved a motion calling for more flexible, innovative and expedited patio permitting. It specifically addressed the plight of breweries and city staff are working out the details.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has said that outdoor seating could be a key component in getting dine-in service up and running, while maintaining safe distancing requirements.

The new zoning would see on-street and private parking spots used for patio seating rather than encroaching on pedestrian areas that also require physical distancing measures.

'Be creative'

Greene says her proposal is a short-term solution that could be considered in the long term.

"Why put things back to where they were when we can be creative and put things back together, better?" she said.

Last week, Attorney General David Eby, whose portfolio includes the liquor and cannabis regulation branch, said he would make an announcement about patios as soon as possible.

If you have a COVID-19-related story we should pursue that affects British Columbians, please email us at impact@cbc.ca. 

With files from Karin Larsen

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