B.C.’s emergency approval for extra outdoor patio space to keep restaurants and pubs going through COVID-19 restrictions is expiring on June 1, and opposition politicians say the province is making it too difficult to keep them going.
Delta city council first called on the province to make the transition easier when the temporary expanded service areas authorization expires. In a letter to Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth, Delta Mayor George Harvie said the province’s Liquor and Cannabis Registration Branch is requiring the payment of a $440 licence fee, submission of floor plans and referral to the local government that could take months.
“The process is too onerous for small businesses who are already reeling after the devastating financial losses encountered due to effects of pandemic restrictions,” Harvie wrote, asking for an indefinite extension while businesses and municipalities get organized.
When B.C. Liberal MLAs raised the issue in the legislature Monday, Farnworth said the emergency licences have already been extended twice, and local government review is needed for them to be made permanent. Some of the patio extensions are installed on what were traffic lanes, and they can’t be made permanent, he said.
Farnworth said he is aware of lengthy processes in Vancouver for making patio extensions permanent, but in his own community of Port Coquitlam and others, the process is well underway.