Economic recovery task force asks City of Penticton to relax patio regulations, remove permit costs amid COVID-19

The City of Penticton’s economic recovery task force is looking to city council for support to relax patio regulations and remove permit costs amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.

In a report to go before city council on Tuesday, economic development specialist Andrew Kemp says it is likely restaurants will only be able to open at half capacity, due to physical distancing guidelines, making it difficult to survive financially.

Kemp suggests the city should remove permit costs and relax design standards for storefront patios and sidewalk retail display areas to encourage businesses to take advantage of outdoor space.

“Utilizing outdoor space, where transmission of virus is much less of a concern, businesses may be able to increase the number of seats,” Kemp said in the report. “In addition, patios and sidewalk uses add vibrancy to the streetscape.”

The task force also recommends tackling property crime issues by promoting safety and security and supporting local bylaw officers and RCMP, as well as bolstering security of the industrial park through a Crime Prevention campaign and promoting recovery efforts through the “Love Local Penticton” campaign.

Slackwater Brewing is also asking for more flexibility when it comes to design regulations for patios. In a letter to council, co-founder Liam Peyton says the city’s building manager has informed him that the fencing around the patio is not in compliance with a local bylaw, even though it passed an occupancy inspection.

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The patio deck is made of cedar and the letter implies a material change would be required to meet current regulations.

“Encouraging patio and al fresco dining appears to be a pillar of Dr. Bonnie Henry’s post-COVID reality, so we feel it is important to maintain our patio, status quo, as a viable option for Penticton diners as relief from restrictions is now on the horizon,” Peyton said.

Also on Tuesday’s agenda, city council will consider sending a letter to B.C.’s attorney general, David Eby, in support of flexible liquor licensing regulations for businesses who are looking to expand their outdoor seating areas as B.C. begins its COVID-19 restart plan.

B.C. will enter phase two of its economic reopening plan on Tuesday, which includes restaurants, retail and personal service establishments. The businesses are allowed to reopen under strict health and safety protocols. Under phase two, people are still asked to stay close to home and avoid non-essential travel between communities.

Health and medical services, such as dentistry, physiotherapy and the re-scheduling of elective surgeries will also resume.

B.C. has no plans to resume large gatherings, including concerts, conferences or professional sports, until a vaccine is available. International travel and tourism will also remain restricted.

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