City of Vancouver starts accepting commercial patio applications for 2021

Restaurant, pub and brewery owners may now apply for free temporary patio licences, which would allow their businesses to create patios on public property and service those patios between April 1 and October 31, the City of Vancouver announced March 1.

The program includes patios on sidewalks, and in curb lanes next to restaurants and bars. Owners seeking new temporary patios on public or private property for their businesses can apply online.

Businesses with existing temporary patio permits on private property are not required to renew for the spring and summer patio seasons

Those aiming to renew their temporary patio licences for existing patios must be compliant with the city’s temporary expedited patio program safety and structural standards.

Some key elements of that program are that patios may not:
• restrict accessibility or reduce space for physical distancing on sidewalks;
• encroach too far onto streets so as not to negatively impact other road users, or interrupt the city’s street cleaning, utility or construction work;
• reduce the open-air aspect of the patios with additional structures or enclosures so as not to heighten the risk of COVID-19 transmission; or
• block access to critical utilities, such as fire department connections.

The city launched its temporary expedited patio program last year, and issued more than 400 patio permits, after industry’s calls for help to be able to safely welcome customers while maintaining physical distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The program had been set to end last October, but city council voted to extend the program and enable owners of the patios to apply to keep their patio open through the winter, and up until March 31. To keep the patios up past that date, they must reapply, according to the city.

Getting permission for a licensed patio is a two-step process. First, business owners need to go through the city’s process and get land-use permission, then they apply to the B.C. Ministry of the Attorney General to get approval to sell alcohol.

Last year, the B.C. government agreed to what it called an “expedited approval process for faster processing times” for licensed patios. Essentially, that meant that applications for licensed patios endured less scrutiny and resulting delays.

This story was originally published by Business in Vancouver.

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