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Vancouver is considering making ‘temporary’ restaurant terraces permanent

Vancouver is considering making ‘temporary’ restaurant terraces permanent

The city’s temporary terraces were immensely successful. This summer, the city issued 692 such permits against 421 in the summer of 2020.

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Vancouver’s hugely popular “temporary” restaurant terraces may become permanent by 2022.

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A staff report to be submitted to council chambers proposes the transition of the Temporary Expedited Patio (TEPP) program, launched in June 2020 to offset restrictions on indoor dining, to a permanent summer terrace program that would run annually from 1 April to 31. October.

This would mean that the hundreds of restaurants, cafes and breweries that have appeared on the sidewalks and city streets over the past two years, and which have helped create a more vibrant terrace culture that was previously lacking in Vancouver, can become a summer fixture.

The program was well received by the public as well as companies. In the summer of 2020, 421 temporary terrace permits were issued by the city. That number jumped to 692 this summer. Before COVID hit, there were 300 licensed sidewalk spaces in Vancouver.

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However, the report notes that there are also problems with the temporary program, including accessibility issues, displacement of sidewalks, parking and bus services, as well as concerns about privatization of public spaces.

It also said that some food businesses that were given leeway during the pandemic may no longer be eligible for the post-pandemic program, including those that may not have public restrooms, have limited occupancy capacity and those with terraces on major roads and arterial streets.

Implementing a permanent summer patio program could also affect the city’s bottom line if fees continue to drop, as they have been for 2020 and 2021.

Staff estimate that the new program will cost $ 682,000 by 2022. It proposes that the program be funded with fees, estimated at $ 641,000 next year.

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Typical permit fees for a patio on public property range from $ 450 for a small patio to $ 2,800 for a large patio. For terraces on private property, a combined development and building permit will cost around $ 1,300.

“If the council instructs staff to deviate from or reduce fees in 2022, further pressure will be put on general tax revenue,” the report said. It estimates that for every 10 percent reduction in fees, the permanent summer patio program would cost $ 120,000 to $ 150,000 for general tax revenue, depending on the number of companies participating.

Unlike the TEPP program, where permits were issued within existing occupancy limits that allowed companies to skip building permits or fire assessments, the proposed program must review applications within the framework of code requirements.

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As a way to streamline the process, the proposed program will allow up to 20 percent of a business’s internal resident load to be moved from indoor seating to the patio. Also, companies with two bathrooms can add up to 12 additional patio chairs in the summer without offering additional bathrooms.

The permanent summer terrace program will use a central application site. The application review will be completed within weeks, the report states.

Further consultation is planned for 2022.

The report is expected to be submitted to the Council’s Standing Committee on Policy and Strategic Priorities on 22 September.

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