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Vancouver extends patio program as businesses look to recover from COVID-19 impacts

Last Updated Sep 17, 2020 at 8:25 am PDT

More than 400 businesses had applied for a patio permit, as of Friday. (Courtesy City of Vancouver)

The City of Vancouver has extended its pop-up patio program into the winter

The program was set to expire on Oct. 31

Councillor Sarah Kirby-Yung says extension will allow businesses chance to recover from COVID-19 pandemic

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Vancouver has extended the life of its pop-up patio program.

The additional outdoor spaces for restaurants and eateries ravaged by the COVID-19 pandemic have proven to be a lifeline for many of these businesses, which have been forced to operate at reduced capacity in order to facilitate physical distancing.

Councillor Sarah Kirby-Yung says allowing the program to run into the winter months will give these businesses a chance to financially recover from the impacts of the health crisis on the economy.

“We heard loud and clear that there’s a real appetite, pun intended, from people to continue to have these pop-up patios in the summertime as well, and that was passed as well,” she tells NEWS 1130.

The program was set to expire on Oct. 31 but will now run until the end of winter.

Kirby-Yung says that for many restaurant owners, the patios have allowed people to still get together and support local businesses during the pandemic.

“Their businesses dropped 50 per cent during the pandemic, and of the remaining business they have, half of it is attributed to the new patio they have that they were never able, were not allowed to have before in the City of Vancouver. Without this temporary program, they would be closed now,” Kirby-Yung explains.

She adds businesses have said they’re “on life support” and that the program has really made a difference.

“If council hadn’t passed this motion, obviously, and we weren’t open to winterizing patios and being as flexible as we were with the summer program, we wouldn’t see these restaurants survive past Christmas,” she says.

“As we head into some of the cooler months, providing people with the ability to still safely get together and have a meal outdoors with their close circle and their bubble is really important because I’m worried about increasing social isolation as we head into the cooler months and people are not going to be in parks as much as they were when we had the beautiful weather. I think this is going to be really important, too, to help people survive through the stresses of COVID-19.”

The City of Vancouver has issued hundreds of patio permits as part of this program.

The permits include making use of sidewalks and temporary plazas to expand seating, all while keeping the appropriate distance between patrons of separate groups.

-With files from Mike Hall and Ria Renouf