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Vancouver councillor wants patio program extended to help eateries with pandemic

Citynews 1130 Vancouver

Last Updated Aug 31, 2020 at 11:51 am PDT

FILE - A couple sits on restaurant's patio on Granville Street in Vancouver, Wednesday, May 20, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)
Summary

One Vancouver councillor is looking ahead and wants the city's temporary patio program extended

Coun. Sarah Kirby-Yung said the program has been a lifeline for restaurants during the pandemic

If not extended, the restaurant industry warns close to 40 per cent of Vancouver eateries may have to close permanently

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — With summer winding down, one Vancouver councillor is looking ahead and wants the city’s temporary patio program extended to help restaurants continue through the pandemic.

If not, the restaurant industry warns, close to 40 per cent of Vancouver eateries may have to close permanently.

The patio program was created to help businesses struggling with health and safety restrictions put in place to limit the spread of COVID-19.

Coun. Sarah Kirby-Yung said the program has been a lifeline for restaurants during the pandemic, adding many residents enjoy dining on patios.

“I put out a quick poll on Twitter and asked people if they would sit on a patio in the fall and winter and overwhelmingly, over 80 per cent said ‘yes’ they would,” she added.

If not for the program, “60 per cent of businesses potentially may not be there in 90 days. That’s a pretty sobering stat,” she said.

Joseph Brown says in a tweet that his kitchen in Kitsilano was granted a patio permit and “it has been our lifeblood this summer season and without it, we’d lose 25 per cent of seating.”

He added the patio means he can hire more staff, which means fewer people struggling to pay bills.

“We need these patios permanently.”

Ian Tostenson, with the B.C. Restaurant and Food Services Association, agreed the program is important to the survival of businesses, but they need to know now whether they should buy equipment, such as patio heaters, for cooler months.

“When you give a restaurant the ability to move some seating outside, it actually allows them to spread that capacity over,” he added.

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However, “We don’t want to get burdened with a bunch of red tape or regulation because we don’t have a lot of time. Restaurant owners are going to have to start making plans now to buying the various equipment they’re going to need. Unconventional time for unconventional remedies.”

The program has issued more than 300 patio permits since its inception in May.

The program is set to expire at the end of October.