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Vancouver councillor pushing to keep temporary street patios open through winter

Click to play video: 'Vancouver approves temporary patios for breweries and distilleries' Vancouver approves temporary patios for breweries and distilleries
Vancouver approves temporary patios for breweries and distilleries – Jun 30, 2020

A Vancouver city councillor is pushing to see the temporary patios that have been a lifeline for some restaurants during COVID-19 stay in place over the winter.

The current Temporary Expedited Patio Program, which has issued more than 360 permits to restaurants, cafes and breweries, is slated to expire on Oct. 31.

Read more: Vancouver issues first sidewalk patio permits, expands program to breweries

Non-Partisan Association Coun. Sarah Kirby-Yung says she wants to see the program extended throughout the winter, and also expanded to be a regular part of summers in the city.

An informal Twitter poll posted by Kirby-Yung Sunday saw more than a thousand responses, 80 per cent of them in favour of keeping the patios through the dreary months.

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She said in order to work during the winter, the street patios would likely need to be covered and heated at the least.

“The program has been so popular, it’s been a lifeline to our restaurants in helping them survive and keep their doors open, and the public have embraced it. So I’d like to see that as something that continues,” said Kirby-Yung.

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A recent survey by the Canadian Chamber of Commerce found the nations restaurants are facing potentially devastating economic headwinds.

Twenty-nine per cent of restaurateurs told the group they could not function at all with social distancing measures in effect, while another 31 per cent said they could only stay in business another three months with those protocols in place.

Read more: Tuesday vote could OK brewery patios in Vancouver for 1st time

“We could be losing more than half our restaurants in the city. A lot of restaurants have said the only reason they were able to stay open and make the numbers work because of the patios,” said Kirby-Yung.

“We have an incredible amount of people employed in the restaurant and hospitality sector, and those jobs are not going to come back for years if we can’t keep some of these restaurants afloat.”

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Council is slated to debate her motion at its upcoming Sept. 15 meeting.

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