Victoria council on Thursday is expected to decide if pandemic-erected street and sidewalk patios will be allowed to stick around until next June.
The Business Recovery from Pandemic Bylaw is set to expire at the end of the month, which would see an end to the city’s Build Back Victoria (BBV) initiatives, such as letting businesses operate temporary patios on public spaces.
A staff report recommends that council make amendments to extend the bylaw until June 1. Those changes, if approved, would let businesses not already permitted to operate on public space to apply by Oct. 31. Businesses with a BBV permit would need to apply for an extension by Nov. 30 and would still have to meet safety, accessibility and corporate stewardship requirements.
Extending the Build Back Victoria initiatives until June would align the city with the provincial license program that allows businesses to temporarily expand the size of their liquor service area.
Council will vote on the item during Thursday’s daytime council meeting. Emails were sent to all current Build Back Victoria permit holders last month to let them know the council would be considering the extension.
Food trucks and other mobile businesses will also be limited in where they can operate, when the pandemic recovery bylaw expires.
City staff recommend the development of a pilot program and new mobile business licensing bylaw as part of the 2023 financial plan process. With dedicated resources, the report stated, the city could expand mobile vending options into public roads and plazas through new measures.
Restaurants and cafes that want to continue operating expanded areas on public spaces past June 1 will need to apply to do so through the Sidewalk Cafe Regulation Bylaw, as well as the Land Use Procedure Bylaw if they sell liquor.
Another recommendation seeks interim changes to the sidewalk cafe bylaw before June 1 that focus on increasing accessibility, safety (heating, lighting, roof structures) and fee equity. Those changes would incorporate lessons learned from Build Back Victoria, the report states.
There are currently 76 Build Back Victoria permit holders. The report said the BBV program and pandemic recovery bylaw have “played an important role in supporting local economic recovery and contributing to an active and vibrant downtown core and village centres.”
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