Port Moody businesses expanding their spaces to accommodate physical distancing are getting a break from the city.
At its meeting Tuesday, council unanimously passed a proposal introduced by Coun. Steve Milani to waive any additional fees charged by the city for inspections and permits as they add adjunct locations or outdoor spaces to give customers and employees more room while reducing the risk of transmitting the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19. Businesses that have already expanded during the pandemic will be refunded fees they paid.
In a report presented to council, Milani said those fees can amount to hundreds of dollars in addition to further expenses like more rent, insurance and utilities. For instance, a special event permit to allow a pub or brewery to open a temporary outdoor patio space costs $211.
Port Moody’s manager of planning, Mary De Paoli, said eight such permits have been issued by the city so far.
Milani said money for city fees can be dear to business owners trying to survive the public health crisis that’s kept customers home or leery of venturing into crowded indoor spaces.
“The least we could do is find a way to eliminate these small extra fees,” he told council. “None of this was planned for.”
Coun. Zoe Royer agreed.
“It’s very difficult for businesses,” she said. “Right now they don’t know how many customers they’re going to get and they need as much safe space as possible.”
Milani said while the fees would be waived, inspections would still take place, a commitment confirmed by the city’s general manager of engineering and operations, Jeff Moi.
“We would continue to do the same level of service as far as inspections and issuing permits,” he said.