The City of Vancouver says it has already issued 14 temporary expedited patio permits, just days after the program’s launch on Monday, June 1.
So far, a total of 46 restaurants and liquor serving establishments have submitted applications for the program, which provides these businesses with a streamlined review process and simplified requirements for patios on streets, curbside parking spaces, or sidewalks.
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The city says permits can be issued in 48 hours, if the online application meets all of the requirements based on their sidewalk and/or curbside conditions. The permits for patio operations will last until October 31. This is a free program; there is no application and permit fee.
Businesses can follow simple templates created by city planners to make this an easier process.
A small sidewalk patio must have a minimum distance of 2.4 metres from the tables to parking meters, street signs, and street lights. For patio benches, the requirement is 2.9 metres. Any furniture on the sidewalk for a small patio must be removed at the end of the day.
A large sidewalk patio on the sidewalk must have a minimum distance of 1.1 metres for the patio aisle.
For curbside parking space patios, they cannot be wider than 1.8 metres and must have a one-metre spot available after every two parking spots for emergency vehicle access. Patios that are near the corner of a city block must have a distance of six metres from patio to stop sign or the nearest edge of the closest sidewalk on an intersecting street.
In addition to street furniture, large sidewalk and curbside patios require a safety railing. These requirements maintain sidewalk clearance and a safe distance from the travel lanes of the road.
The designs must be accessible, such as the inclusion of a ramp, if necessary. There are also minimal clearance requirements from utilities (such as drains and manholes) and fire hydrant connections.
Small sidewalk patio
Large sidewalk patio
Curbside parking space patio
But the patios cannot use any structures that require a development and/or building permit, nor can they be anchored into a street or sidewalk deeper than 10 cm. There are also no seating capacity increases beyond the existing occupancy permit and provincial health order of a 50% occupancy capacity.
As of today, breweries with a manufacturing licence are eligible to apply for a temporary expedited patio permit.
These guidelines were developed after Vancouver City Council’s May 12 direction to city staff to develop a new, faster online application process for flexible restaurant patios. On May 19, the ban on restaurant table service that began on March 20 was also rescinded.
The city states it is also working on developing potential bylaw changes to allow temporary patios on private property, as three of the patio submissions so far are for private property patios.
These outdoor dining spaces are intended to allow proper physical distancing and support struggling restaurants and establishments. This could be particularly beneficial for smaller businesses, by allowing their seating capacities to be increased beyond what might be permissible for indoor dining under physical distancing requirements. Additionally, health officials have indicated outdoor environments — allowing potential coronavirus droplets to widely disperse — are safer compared to indoor environments.