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

Robbie Campbell lost his livelihood when the pandemic shut down Shambhala Music Festival. Instead, he spent part of 2020 working on a children’s book called Tulip that is now available. Photo: Submitted
In a lousy year, a Kootenay man was saved by a pink T-rex

Robbie Campbell became a children’s author after the pandemic cost him his livelihood

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
253 new COVID-19 cases, 4 more deaths in Interior Health over the weekend

More than 1,000 cases in the region remain active

A Trail man has a lucky tin for a keepsake after it saved him from a stabbing last week. File photo
RCMP: Small tin saved Trail man from stabbing

The man was uninjured thanks to a tin in his jacket

School District 8 is asking the education ministry to stop making the Foundation Skills Assessment data public. File photo
Kootenay Lake School District requests education ministry make annual student assessments private

The district is concerned the data is being misused by the Fraser Institute

Nelson has begun 2021 with a small rise in COVID-19 cases. Illustration: BC Centre for Disease Control
Ten new cases of COVID-19 in Nelson area

The cases were reported for the week of Jan. 3 to 9

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry prepares a daily update on the coronavirus pandemic, April 21, 2020. (B.C. Government)
B.C. adjusts COVID-19 vaccine rollout for delivery slowdown

Daily cases decline over weekend, 31 more deaths

Sunnybank
COVID-19 related deaths at Oliver, West Kelowna and Vernon senior care homes

Sunnybank, Heritage Retirement Residence and Noric House recorded deaths over the weekend

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A female prisoner sent Langford police officers a thank-you card after she spent days in their custody. (Twitter/West Shore RCMP)
Woman gives Victoria-area jail 4.5-star review in handwritten card to police after arrest

‘We don’t often get thank you cards from people who stay with us, but this was sure nice to see’: RCMP

An elk got his antlers caught up in a zip line in Youbou over the weekend. (Conservation Officer Service Photo)
Elk rescued from zip line in Youbou on Vancouver Island

Officials urge people to manage items on their property that can hurt animals

Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation Chantel Moore, 26, was fatally shot by a police officer during a wellness check in the early morning of June 4, 2020, in Edmundston, N.B. (Facebook)
Frustrated family denied access to B.C. Indigenous woman’s police shooting report

Independent investigation into B.C. woman’s fatal shooting in New Brunswick filed to Crown

Delta Police Constable Jason Martens and Dezi, a nine-year-old German Shepherd that recently retired after 10 years with Delta Police. (Photo submitted)
Dezi, a Delta police dog, retires on a high note after decade of service

Nine-year-old German Shepherd now fights over toys instead of chasing down bad guys

Nurses collect samples from a patient in a COVID suspect room in the COVID-19 intensive care unit at St. Paul’s hospital in downtown Vancouver, Tuesday, April 21, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)
5 British Columbians under 20 years old battled COVID-19 in ICU in recent weeks

Overall hospitalizations have fallen but young people battling the virus in hospital has increased

Canada released proposed regulations Jan. 2 for the fisheries minister to maintain Canada’s major fish stocks at sustainable levels and recover those at risk. (File photo)
New laws would cement DFO accountability to depleted fish stocks

Three B.C. salmon stocks first in line for priority attention under proposed regulations

Most Read