The pop-up street and sidewalk patios that emerged in Oak Bay last year can stay in place through next spring.
At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Oak Bay took advantage of a provincial plan that allowed businesses to follow a temporary permitting process to expand operational footprints and offer food and liquor services on public property.
Last month the province extended temporary liquor licence exemptions for more than 2,000 pub and restaurant patios until June 1, 2022 and is accepting new applications until the end of October.
Discussion surrounding the permanent use of public space for liquor and food services will also be part of Oak Bay’s 2022 strategic priorities and financial planning process.
The guidelines put in place for the current temporary use of public space were developed quickly in order to facilitate a timely response to the COVID-19 crisis. The change would require the district to develop a new patio permit process, including guidelines, standards and regulations.
Work would include updating design guidelines; reviewing transportation and pedestrian safety standards for users in and around the patios, and determining a fee structure for private business use of public space, including permit expiration and renewal frequency.
“This has been a great boon to local businesses on The Avenue in particular,” Coun. Cairine Green, council’s liaison with the Oak Bay Business Improvement Association. She added future work is critical, as there are concerns about crowding and pedestrian safety.
Local government approval will be key to maintaining existing patios, many of which extend onto street space and use temporary structures.
Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth said the extension of temporary use is to allow pubs and restaurants to carry on without interruption as they reapply for permanent licences. Those without a new authorization will have their liquor licence expire at the end of October, and new applications require support of the local government.
– with files from Tom Fletcher
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