PoCo's open call to restaurants points out Vancouver's patio pinch

Mar 7 2022, 9:40 pm

After living under a near-constant cloud of rain for eight months of the year, Vancouverites yearn for a sun-dappled patio come spring and summer.

Now, according to a new patio policy from the City of Vancouver, it’s going to cost a lot more for bars and restaurants to have an outdoor dining set up.

When he was tapped on social media to help out, Port Coquitlam Mayor Brad West responded with an open call to restaurants looking for a place to set up shop.

“I engage and respond with social media frequently to get the word out about my city,” West told Daily Hive.

“Promoting PoCo as a great place to live and open a business is part of my responsibility, and I responded to let restaurants know we want them to come here.”

West told Daily Hive that Port Coquitlam was the first to roll out a temporary patio program and the first to make it permanent in September 2021.

“Our approach is simple and straightforward; it included one form, no fees, a one-stop point person at the city to help businesses wanting to take advantage of it,” he said.

Port Coquitlam’s patio policies are in stark contrast to Vancouver’s new guidelines that came out on February 25, 2022, which now require businesses to pay fees for patios.

patio

City of Vancouver

Also, businesses will require “scaled architectural drawings,” which could cost between $3,000 and $4,000 to obtain for a small, six square metres sized patio.

The same patio will cost business owners a lot less in PoCo than in Vancouver.
“Port Coquitlam is a growing city and a go-to place for young families to live,” says West.

“We respect local businesses and the vibrancy they contribute to our city. That respect guides our approach to make it as easy as possible to do business in PoCo and provide out-of-the-box support wherever we can.”

Lisa Parker from the City of Vancouver told Daily Hive that the City is “aware of the concerns from industry and businesses regarding fees, design standards and approach.”

“We understand that 2022 may be the first year that some businesses will be required to pay a permit fee or submit scaled dimensioned drawings for their patio, and that this may be frustrating for many,” they said.

The City said that scaled drawings weren’t needed under the Temporary Expedited Patio Program, made during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic that gave free temporary patio permits to make outdoor dining space.

Now, the new program is in place, and it comes with fees and requires drawings.

“Patio permit fees support formalized requirements to ensure all Vancouverites can safely access and enjoy these spaces,” said the City, who said the fees cover the costs of administering the program.

The city also clarified that the necessary scaled dimensioned drawings “do not need to be done by a professional architect, and do not need a professional stamp or seal by an architect or engineer.”

In fact, they just have to be 2-D drafted line drawings done to scale with accurate dimensions and labelling. “They can even be hand-drawn, as long as they are accurate and complete,” said the City.

The drawings are required because they’re “critical to staff’s review process, to ensure that patios meet accessibility and safety needs for both the patio itself and for the public realm,” said the City.

While the City of Vancouver says it’s committed to “making patios a part of every summer in Vancouver and continuing to listen, collaborate and find solutions together with industry and businesses,” now, businesses will have to adapt to the new realities in the patio program or take off for Port Coquitlam.

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