B.C. Attorney General David Eby. (Photo: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito)

B.C. Attorney General David Eby. (Photo: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito)

City governments to get more power over patio approval in B.C.’s COVID-19 reopening plan

Eby noted liquor stores have seen a ‘dramatic increase’ in sales during the pandemic

Attorney General David Eby says the provincial government is fast-tracking work on how to streamline patio approval for restaurants struggling under the pandemic, to provide more space for licensees to use outdoor seating.

To achieve that, the province is handing jurisdiction of most of the approval process over to city governments.

“The provincial government won’t be slowing it down,” he said Wednesday. “We understand every day matters right now.

“Public health advises us that people will be safer outside compared to inside,” Eby noted, “and with limited inside footprint for many restaurants they’re looking at ways of ‘how can we get even close to the numbers we need to stay open if we’re only allowed so many people inside the restaurant?’”

“So allowing people to have additional socially distanced seats outside will help them make the bottom line and it might make the difference between staying open or closing for a restaurant.”

Eby spoke Wednesday during a “digital town hall” meeting hosted by the Surrey Board of Trade, through Zoom teleconferencing.

The attorney general, meanwhile, noted that liquor regulation is a “multi-level, incredibly challenging beast to negotiate.”

Before a business can have a patio, he explained, it must have the consent of the civic government that it’s in an appropriate location.

“So if you make it through the municipal hurdle you have to provide your plans to the provincial government as well, an inspector approves the plans for safety and capacity, and then returns those approved plans to you, you build your patio and then and inspector comes and inspects the patio to make sure that it meets what the original plans said, and then the city almost certainly comes and does an inspection as well,” Eby said.

“It’s a long process. And when the weather turns good, there’s a lot of people who say ‘I think I should get a patio for my restaurant’, and they find out it’s going to take about six months to get a patio…our vision is that most of the approval process now will lie in the hands of the municipal government.”

Ian Tostenson, CEO of the BC Restaurant and Foodservices Association, told Black Press Media in an earlier interview that patios will be integral to allowing local restaurants with spacial concerns to reopen with maximum profitability while keeping guests and staff safe.

The association, along with a number of other groups such as the BC Craft Brewers Guild, has penned a letter to all mayors and councillors across the province requesting expedited patio permitting and rezoning.

READ MORE: B.C. restaurants can host dine-in guests again, but what will that look like?

Eby also noted the government has deferred license fees in the casino and liquor sectors that are typically due on June 30.

“Obviously, if your pub or restaurant is not open, paying those fees is just adding insult to injury so we’ve actually deferred that until you’re open and running.”

Meantime, Eby noted liquor stores have seen a “dramatic increase” in sales during the pandemic.

“A lot of people questioned why we might have liquor as a service that was still open during the pandemic,” he said.

“I think it’s really important to recognize that both liquor and cannabis sales, the reason why they’re regulated industries, why the government engages in these industries, is because we want them to be regulated, there are social harms that are associated with using these controlled substances and to turn the entirety of either liquor or cannabis over to the black market during the pandemic did not seem like a very good approach to us.

“We certainly did not want to see a significant number of people who are addicted to alcohol showing up at emergency rooms in withdrawal in the middle of a pandemic either.”

– with files from Ashley Wadhwani, Black Press Media



tom.zytaruk@surreynowleader.com

Like us on Facebook and follow Tom on Twitter

Attorney GeneralCoronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

More than 35 families received renoviction notices on Feb. 26, 2020 at Pinecrest Townhomes in Prince Rupert. (K-J Millar/The Northern View)
Renovictions will be tightened in proposed changes to renters laws

Rent freeze, and changes to procedures will benefit Prince Rupert tenants and landlords

Chloe and Koy are two participants in the talent show format of the 2021 annual Children's Fest to be broadcast on community television March 5th and 6th. ()Photo: supplied by Prince Rupert Special Event Society)
30th Annual Children’s Fest takes on a new format

2021 Prince Rupert Children’s Fest will feature a show of local talent

(Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
Murder charge laid in February 2020 stabbing death of Smithers man

Michael Egenolf is charged with the second-degree murder of Brodie Cumiskey

Families on the North Coast will benefit from 70 new childcare spaces Ministry of Children and Family Development announced on March 1. Seen here are children from Growing Together Child Care Centre in Surrey. (Photo supplied by Jennifer Rice, MLA for Northcoast)
Northcoast families to benefit from new childcare spaces

62 Childcare spaces in Lax Kw’alaams and 8 in Haida Gwaii are part of Childcare BC New Spaces Fund

Prince Rupert Firefighter Dylan Lawrence, demonstrates the new fire safety nozzles for hoses on March 1, which will allow for increased safety of firefighters at hazard scenes. The nozzles can spray water up to 200 feet and money for the purchase was donated to the department by Pembina. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)
Pembina donates to Prince Rupert Fire Dept.

New fire equipment will improve safety in Prince Rupert

The area on Cordova Bay Road where ancestral human remains were discovered Feb. 22. (Submitted photo)
Human remains discovery a reminder of B.C. Indigenous culture dug up and displaced

‘These are the people who inspired and birthed the generations that we now have here’

Older rental apartments are prime candidates for renovations, and could result in lost affordable housing stock. (Zoë Ducklow photo)
B.C.’s renoviction overhaul a good start, but won’t preserve affordable stock, lawyer says

And still no protection for people who can’t pay rent due to COVID-19

(Photo by Marissa Baecker/Shoot the Breeze)
B.C. WHL teams to hit the ice with Kelowna, Kamloops hub cities

Kelowna, Kamloops centres chosen to host B.C. WHL teams for 24-game regular season

The machines are akin to ATMs and allow drug users at risk of overdose to get hydromorphone pills dispensed to them after their palm has been scanned to identify its unique vein pattern. (CANADIAN PRESS)
Feds dole out $3.5M for ‘vending machines’ to dispense safer opioids in B.C.

The machines are located in four cities across Canada, including Vancouver and Victoria

Kelowna’s lakefront visitor centre is one of 130 around the province. Tourism businesses have been hardest hit by COVID-19 restrictions on travel. (Destination B.C.)
Tourism, small business getting COVID-19 help, B.C. minister says

$300M grant program has delivered $50 million so far

The incident happened in downtown Castlegar. Photo: Betsy Kline
Castlegar teen recounts stabbing after stranger breaks into grandmother’s house

The unnamed teen survived a terrifying attack Feb. 21

(Black Press file photo)
Agassiz boy, 11, dies from ‘extensive injuries’: Homicide team

Agassiz RCMP were called out Friday to assist with a child in medical distress

Most Read