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Province promotes permanent pub patios in B.C. post-pandemic plan

More than 2,000 temporary expansions from COVID-19 rules
White Rock’s Marine Drive has been converted to one-way traffic to allow more patio space for waterfront restaurants. (Peace Arch News)

The B.C. government is extending its temporary liquor licence exemptions for more than 2,000 pub and restaurant patios until June 1, 2022, and accepting new applications for outdoor serving areas until the end of October.

Patios popped up around the province as hospitality businesses struggled to stay open with COVID-19 restrictions, which shut pubs and restaurants entirely in the early months of 2020 and then restricted them to outdoor service only during B.C.’s five-week “circuit breaker” restrictions that ended May 25.

Local government approval will be key to maintaining existing patios, many of which extend onto street space and use temporary structures. Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth said Tuesday the extension of temporary use is to allow pubs and restaurants to carry on without interruption as they reapply for permanent licences. Those without a new authorization will have their liquor licence expire at the end of October, and new applications require support of the local government.

The ministry has updated its policies to remove specific description of the boundaries and signs for extended patios, putting the onus on business operators to make sure their structure meets the regulations. Businesses are encouraged to apply as soon as possible, since evaluation of parking and other restrictions on liquor service areas can take up to 10 months.

“Local governments and Indigenous Nations will have until July 30, 2021, to raise concerns about existing temporary expanded service area (TESA) authorizations in their jurisdiction, before those temporary authorizations are extended by six months by the Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch,” the ministry said in a statement June 15. “To all licensees with current TESA authorizations and whose local governments have not raised concerns, LCRB will issue authorization letters extending the expiry date of their temporary authorization to June 1, 2022.”

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