B.C. Attorney General David Eby. (Photo: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito)

City governments to get more power over patio approval in B.C.’s COVID-19 reopening plan

Eby noted liquor stores have seen a ‘dramatic increase’ in sales during the pandemic

Attorney General David Eby says the provincial government is fast-tracking work on how to streamline patio approval for restaurants struggling under the pandemic, to provide more space for licensees to use outdoor seating.

To achieve that, the province is handing jurisdiction of most of the approval process over to city governments.

“The provincial government won’t be slowing it down,” he said Wednesday. “We understand every day matters right now.

“Public health advises us that people will be safer outside compared to inside,” Eby noted, “and with limited inside footprint for many restaurants they’re looking at ways of ‘how can we get even close to the numbers we need to stay open if we’re only allowed so many people inside the restaurant?’”

“So allowing people to have additional socially distanced seats outside will help them make the bottom line and it might make the difference between staying open or closing for a restaurant.”

Eby spoke Wednesday during a “digital town hall” meeting hosted by the Surrey Board of Trade, through Zoom teleconferencing.

The attorney general, meanwhile, noted that liquor regulation is a “multi-level, incredibly challenging beast to negotiate.”

Before a business can have a patio, he explained, it must have the consent of the civic government that it’s in an appropriate location.

“So if you make it through the municipal hurdle you have to provide your plans to the provincial government as well, an inspector approves the plans for safety and capacity, and then returns those approved plans to you, you build your patio and then and inspector comes and inspects the patio to make sure that it meets what the original plans said, and then the city almost certainly comes and does an inspection as well,” Eby said.

“It’s a long process. And when the weather turns good, there’s a lot of people who say ‘I think I should get a patio for my restaurant’, and they find out it’s going to take about six months to get a patio…our vision is that most of the approval process now will lie in the hands of the municipal government.”

Ian Tostenson, CEO of the BC Restaurant and Foodservices Association, told Black Press Media in an earlier interview that patios will be integral to allowing local restaurants with spacial concerns to reopen with maximum profitability while keeping guests and staff safe.

The association, along with a number of other groups such as the BC Craft Brewers Guild, has penned a letter to all mayors and councillors across the province requesting expedited patio permitting and rezoning.

READ MORE: B.C. restaurants can host dine-in guests again, but what will that look like?

Eby also noted the government has deferred license fees in the casino and liquor sectors that are typically due on June 30.

“Obviously, if your pub or restaurant is not open, paying those fees is just adding insult to injury so we’ve actually deferred that until you’re open and running.”

Meantime, Eby noted liquor stores have seen a “dramatic increase” in sales during the pandemic.

“A lot of people questioned why we might have liquor as a service that was still open during the pandemic,” he said.

“I think it’s really important to recognize that both liquor and cannabis sales, the reason why they’re regulated industries, why the government engages in these industries, is because we want them to be regulated, there are social harms that are associated with using these controlled substances and to turn the entirety of either liquor or cannabis over to the black market during the pandemic did not seem like a very good approach to us.

“We certainly did not want to see a significant number of people who are addicted to alcohol showing up at emergency rooms in withdrawal in the middle of a pandemic either.”

– with files from Ashley Wadhwani, Black Press Media



tom.zytaruk@surreynowleader.com

Like us on Facebook and follow Tom on Twitter

Attorney GeneralCoronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Nomination period closing soon for Abbotsford’s Arty Awards

Deadline of Aug. 1 set for 16th annual event which highlights local artists

Virtual Career Panel discusses job challenges faced by newcomers

Archway Community Services in Abbotsford participates in event on July 16

Abbotsford Hospice Society holds community scavenger hunt

Road to Gratitude event takes place on Sunday, July 19 by the carload

New book celebrates people and events that shaped Abbotsford

Pre-sales launched for Abbotsford – A Diverse Tapestry, to be released in fall

Provincial COVID-19 data can now be used for B.C. to prepare for a second wave

In the past week, B.C. has seen a slight spike in daily test-positive case counts

Islanders want BC Ferries to follow order that lets residents board before tourists

For ferry-dependent communities, ferries are often the sole practical lifeline to work, school or medical appointments.

Fraser Valley loses the Keith Wilson Waver as Ron Hupper passes away

Hupper brought smiles to the faces of hundreds of people traveling Chilliwack’s Keith Wilson Road

Beverly Hills 90210 star’s family selling Vancouver Island Beach Resort

You can own Jason Priestley’s Terrace Beach Resort in Ucluelet for less than $5 million

Genetic detectives begin work to trace spread of COVID-19 in Canada

The kinds of genetic technology being used for this project did not exist when SARS hit Canada in 2003

Sports fishers protest Fraser River Chinook closures

Public Fishery Alliance wants hatchery fish open for harvest

Woman sexually assaulted, robbed near Surrey SkyTrain station: RCMP

Police say the incident happened July 10, just after 11 p.m. near King George SkyTrain station

B.C. Ferries increasing passenger capacity after COVID-19 restrictions

Transport Canada 50-per-cent limit being phased out, no current plans to provide masks

Four-vehicle collision snarls eastbound highway traffic in Fraser Valley

Collision west of Lickman Road on Highway 1 includes three vehicles plus motorcycle

Most Read