Vancouver craft breweries one step closer to getting patios

A recent motion passed by Vancouver City Council will make it easier for restaurants and bars to apply for a patio licence—and for the first time, breweries with a lounge endorsement will be allowed to apply as well. Contributed photo

Vancouver craft breweries could soon be getting patios after Vancouver City Council unanimously passed a motion Wednesday allowing for more flexibility with patio licencing.

The motion, put forward by Coun. Sarah Kirby-Yung, allows the city to expedite patio applications, with the possibility of allocating public space for outdoor dining and drinking, in order to help restaurants, bars and breweries recover from the COVID-19 pandemic response.

“Many cities are re-examining the use of public space now to achieve healthier communities,” Coun. Kirby-Yung stated in her motion to council. “A COVID legacy can be a more vibrant and people focused public realm.”

Previously, craft breweries were not permitted to have patios in the City of Vancouver, unless they had a restaurant licence. The motion allows breweries with a lounge endorsement to apply for a patio licence for the first time.

Coun. Kirby-Yung tweeted that she believes that new flexible, innovative and expedited patio permitting will be available “imminently” and that moving dining outside is critical for restaurants’ ability to survive.

The motion also advocated having staff come up with ways to create “commons-style eating spaces with additional chairs, benches or tables on public plazas or public spaces, that can enable outdoor eating areas to support different takeout or quick service restaurants and cafes in various neighbourhoods.”

BC Restaurant and Food Services Association CEO Ian Tostenson believes that the B.C. government is also separately intending to clip red tape and make it easier for restaurant owners to get approval to open licensed patios.

“It’s a great move by government,” Tostenson said. “I’m totally in appreciation and industry is totally elated.”

He explained that the current process to open a licensed patio is to send the city a plan for the patio, and a diagram as well as a licensing fee. The city decision could then take months to approve the proposal.

The restaurant owner would then separately have to contact the province and go through the process of having the government amend the specific liquor licence to allow for more seats and a patio. The new process is expected to be that the province will essentially rubber-stamp all requests that are OK with the city.

The Ministry of the Attorney General has also indicated that it is on board with easier licensing for patios.

“We are working on fast tracking the process for restaurants who want to expand patio service,” the Ministry of Attorney General’s statement said.

–With files from Glen Korstrom / Business in Vancouver

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