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Victoria council gives pandemic patios year-long extension

Extending Build Back Victoria programs until fall 2022 gets the green light
Server Roxanne Cameron sets up a ping pong table on the street patio area outside Pagliacci’s restaurant on Broad Street as she and other staff get ready for opening. The eatery supplied both the ping pong and a foosball table for patrons who want to enjoy the outdoor space. (Black Press Media file photo)

Patios built on Victoria streets and sidewalks during the pandemic are here to stay for another year.

The Business Recovery from Pandemic Bylaw was set to expire at month’s end, meaning businesses involved in Build Back Victoria (BBV) initiatives would have to pack up their expanded or new areas that spilled out into public space and aimed to provide COVID-19 safe dining options.

Staff recommended keeping the bylaw in effect until June, but Victoria council on Thursday decided to extend that expiry date until Oct. 31, 2022. New applications for a BBV permit for liquor-serving businesses will be considered until Oct. 31. Council also approved rolling over all existing Build Back Victoria permits until the end of next October.

Food trucks and other permitted mobile vendors will also be able to continue operating under the increased freedoms they’ve had under the BBV initiatives. Staff will put resources toward developing a pilot program and new mobile business licensing bylaw as part of the 2023 financial plan process. With the dedicated resources, the city could expand mobile vending options into public roads and plazas.

Council voted to rename the Sidewalk Cafe Regulation Bylaw to the Patio Bylaw, which requires outdoor dining spaces to meet safety and accessibility standards and gives businesses a path to make their pandemic patio permanent. Lessons learned from BBV will be incorporated into interim changes to the bylaw.

“The changes we’re proposing to the sidewalk bylaw now are not radical changes, it’s just taking what businesses are already doing, the expectations they already have through Build Back Victoria, and putting that into practice,” staff said during Thursday’s committee of the whole meeting.

Council also directed staff to work to streamline the application process for sidewalk applications as a part of this project while providing for proper consideration of accessibility.

READ: Council to vote Thursday on extending Victoria’s street and sidewalk patio permits

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Jake Romphf

About the Author: Jake Romphf

In early 2021, I made the move from the Great Lakes to Greater Victoria with the aim of experiencing more of the country I report on.
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