Port Coquitlam may soon have a lively patio scene and while it won’t be Paris in June, Mayor Brad West is hoping some businesses take advantage of the city’s offer for free carpentry work and other services to create outdoor space for diners and other customers.
“There’s no rule that says the only outdoor eating that has to happen has to be in a European city,” said West.
With social distancing rules requiring restaurants to open at 50% capacity and other restrictions, businesses are looking at opportunities to create more space.
The move comes as the province is allowing restaurants, pubs, breweries and other licensees to apply on line for temporary expansion to their patios to help them recover from the COVID-19 shutdown.
However, applicants can only increase their footprint not occupancy and the expansion is good until Oct. 30, 2020.
In Port Coquitlam, the city is also looking at providing help, and so far seven businesses have approached the city’s one-stop shop for support that could include waived fees for expansions (with proof of insurance) and free construction services.
West said there’s money in the budget for work such as the construction of temporary level platforms or mobile structures, repainting lines or moving street furniture, such as benches.
“These businesses also pay taxes so they are not getting something for nothing,” he said.
In fact, some businesses have told him they need some extra breathing room to be able to serve customers and weather the COVID-19 storm, with local craft breweries among those reaching out for expanded outdoor areas to be able to serve customers.
“Every need is going to be different, and for some that may look like a room for patrons for seating and for others it may be room for displaying goods, it may be for line ups, the needs are going to be different.”
He’s confident that opening up city sidewalks and parking for expanded space won’t infringe on pedestrians, people with mobility challenges, or other city needs and each situation would be looked at individually for the best solution.
“The appropriate city department would work this in to their schedule and work plan and work with the business,” West confirmed.
“We’re not charging the business for it, it’s part of our contribution and support for local business to make sure they can come back and thrive, I don’t want to think about our community without our local businesses, and I don’t want to have a community where the only business that can survive is multi-national big corporate franchise.”
Meanwhile, a number of restaurants in the Tri-Cities are opening up next week, and patios will help them serve customers given the requirement of two metres of space between tables.