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.
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