An organization representing businesses in Surrey are urging the municipal government to eliminate the city’s high costs associated with turning parking spots into patio spaces.
The Surrey Economic Recovery Task Force says the established costs are prohibitive to restaurants, bars, and shops looking to expand their operations onto sidewalks. The city’s patio policy was approved with the intention of supporting physical distancing and providing a tool for businesses struggling to survive.
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There is a $200 application fee, a $500 damage deposit, and a mandatory traffic safety cost of $500 for local roads and low-traffic collector roads, such as traffic cones, pylons, and temporary signage.
The cost is significantly higher for arterial roads and high-traffic collector roads, estimated at about $1,400 per parking stall from the installation of jersey barriers. The municipal government will equally share the costs of installing and removing these barriers after September 30, when the temporary permitting ends.
Businesses are facing major cash flow issues, and these city-mandated costs do not even include their own private costs of acquiring seats, tables, and other equipment.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has presented every region with its own set of unique challenges and circumstances, and many Surrey businesses are struggling to keep their heads above water,” said Laura Ballance, the spokesperson for the Surrey Economic Recovery Task Force, in a statement.
“Finding ways to ensure that these businesses are able to survive the fallout from the pandemic is paramount. This begins with giving local business owners the chance to adapt and change to the current climate without having to worry about additional costs, particularly when they’re already dealing with huge revenue losses.”
Instead, the organization is asking the city to mirror its sidewalk patio program after the cities of Vancouver and Port Coquitlam.
Surrey Economic Recovery Task Force is comprised of the Surrey Board of Trade and a number of business improvement associations across Surrey and White Rock. The organization, formed recently in response to COVID-19’s economic impact, says it collectively represents the interests of 9,500 businesses.