VANCOUVER -- The City of White Rock has voted in favour of temporarily shutting down one lane of traffic along Marine Drive to make way for more outdoor patio space this summer.

The city passed a motion during a council meeting Monday, which will see the north lane of the main strip close to traffic until September.

The move is to support White Rock’s restaurant industry, which has been hard-hit by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic especially as current restrictions in B.C. keep indoor dining off-limits.

“Businesses on Marine Drive, including restaurants, have suffered financially during the pandemic and are struggling to pay rent and to pay their employees,” said White Rock Mayor Darryl Walker, in a news release.

“These are our neighbours, our friends, and we want to ensure that when the pandemic is over, our restaurants can welcome back all the visitors who love coming to White Rock.”

A starting date for the closure has yet to be set by the city, but it says a plan in partnership with the White Rock Business Improvement Association will soon be put in place.

Walker says the city is working to minimize the impact on local residents as much as possible and urges everyone to continue following COVID-19 safety protocols and not straying far from their neighbourhoods.

The safety of diners, pedestrians and access to parking for Marine Drive residents remains the top priorities, the city said.

“Extending patio space will help restaurants and cafes along Marine Drive survive the capacity restrictions from the provincial health officer due to COVID-19,” said Alex Nixon, executive director of the White Rock BIA.

“This initiative joins others passed by this Council, including waiving patio licence fees and offering free parking daily from November to January to support the small businesses that make our community so very remarkable.”