Patio season that lasts into the winter? Vancouver councillor pitches extension this year
Published Monday, August 31, 2020 1:33PM PDT Last Updated Monday, August 31, 2020 1:59PM PDT
A woman wears a protective face mask as she walks past a opened restaurant patio on Granville Street in Vancouver, Wednesday, May 20, 2020. British Columbia has entered into phase 2 of the provinces re-start plan allowing some business to reopen. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
VANCOUVER -- With the official start of fall now just three weeks away, a Vancouver city councillor is asking the public to weigh in on keeping the temporary patios that have sprouted up across the city this summer around longer.
Sarah Kirby-Yung posted the Twitter poll Sunday, saying the city’s temporary expedited patios have been "a lifeline for restaurants."
More than 1,700 users have responded, with the results overwhelming supporting the councillor’s suggestion with 81 per cent of the vote.
The city launched the pilot program back in June to help businesses manage physical distancing rules and the subsequently decreased seating capacity. The permit is free, and allows temporary patios to be built on private property.
"Restaurants have done a great job setting up temporary patios, and show areal awareness of having a barrier for people to be comfortable. Main Street is a great example of an area that’s really embraced it," said Kirby-Yung in a phone interview Monday afternoon.
One Twitter user who says they run a kitchen in Vancouver’s Kitsilano neighbourhood replied to Kirby-Yung, suggesting their approved temporary patio likely represented a quarter of their current seating.
"It has been our life blood this summer season, and without it, we’d lose 25% of our seating," wrote Joseph Brown, "these patios mean I can hire more staff, which means less (people) struggling to pay bills. We need these patios permanently."
CTV News Vancouver has reached out to Brown for more information about his kitchen.
The city councillor is applauding Vancouver for being "resilient and adaptable" during the COVID-19 pandemic, but says she's concerned about people's mental health when fall and winter months bring rain, wind and cold.
"We are Canadian, we do get inclement weather. You look at Tofino, who embraces storm watching season….I think people are adapting to COVID-19 and this is an opportunity for people on better days to still be able to get out and connect," said Kirby-Yung.
When asked about potential issues, Kirby-Yung said accessibility and safety are always a concern, but suggested there is enough flexibility in the program to allow restaurants to create a system that works for them.
Hundreds of businesses have taken part in the program, which is currently slated to end on Halloween.
Kirby-Yung's motion is up for debate when Vancouver City Council meets Sept. 14.
With files from CTV News Vancouver’s Regan Hasegawa