Patio dwellers find open spaces while businesses get fast-track system for outdoor space expansion
VICTORIA -- Sun worshippers and patio dwellers showed up to Belleville’s Watering Hole in Victoria’s iconic inner harbour not long after the restaurant opened its outdoor space Friday. The first order was a beer.
"Fantastic!" said owner Rob Chyzowski.
After months of restrictions, Belleville’s resumed business with tables more than six feet apart. Staff have specific areas to stand in, marked by an X on tables inside, and a lane to stand in away from customers outside. Plus, you’ll find sanitizing stations everywhere.
Chyzowski said he’s operating at 50 per cent capacity as set out by regulations, and staff get temperature checks when they show up to work. He’s also applauding a move by the province to fast-track patio expansions for bars, restaurants and wineries on a temporary basis.
"There’s a broad understanding that the risk of infection rises when people are inside as opposed to outside, and in addition there’s a certain number of customers that you need to pay the rent," said Attorney General David Eby in an interview with CTV News.
Eby added he expected the online portal to be quite busy. He said approvals typically take months.
"The website set up by the LCRB (Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch), it could be a nearly instant approval process, depending on local governments," he explained.
Local governments are responsible for where licensed operators can set up and define things like hours. Some cities are already looking at setting up specific zones on streets, or even expediting applications. The goal is to get out of the way of businesses needing flexibility while trying to make ends meet.
Chyzowski said if he were able to expand his occupancy - he could add space. However, the change only allows for the potential increase in space to allow more customers outside-- not an increse in capacity.
Still, with the sun shining in Victoria on Friday, Chyzowski didn’t seem too bothered.
"Happy hour is going to be unbelievable for us today."