Business owners say Vancouver should make pandemic patios permanent

Click to play video: 'Vancouver’s permanent patio debate continues'
Vancouver’s permanent patio debate continues
During the height of the pandemic, patios were a lifeline for some bars and restaurants which struggled to stay afloat financially. Now as Kamil Karamali reports, the city of Vancouver is asking if the temporary additions should be allowed to become permanent fixtures on private properties – Jan 29, 2023

During the height of the pandemic, patios turned into a lifeline for some Vancouver bars and restaurants, helping keep those businesses financially afloat.

Now the City of Vancouver must decide if expanded patio spaces should become a permanent fixture on private properties.

In 2020, a temporary allowance for patios on private properties was granted but that amendment is set to end on March 31.

Hundreds of these types of patios were permitted in Vancouver.

Ian Tostenson, president and CEO of the B.C. Restaurant and Foodservice Association, told Global News these patios could help businesses that are still struggling to rebound from the pandemic

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“You probably pick up 30 to 40 per cent increased sales because of when you have a patio as opposed to when you don’t have a patio,” Tostenson said.

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“When it’s a nice day and you don’t have a patio, you’ll see many restaurants aren’t that busy. Patios are critical.”

Tostenson said patios are more than just a moneymaker for businesses; they also add an element to Vancouver’s quality of life and sense of community.

“It’s not just a benefit for the owner, but it adds to the attractiveness of Vancouver for tourists and helps the culture of the city,” he said.

Kelly Gordon, a Romer’s Burger Bar part-owner, said the extra pandemic patio space helped grow the bar’s customer base and subsequently the bottom line at its three locations.

“Patios (were) the difference between being profitable and unprofitable,” Gordon told Global News.

“The impacts from the patios were dramatic. During the summer, patios earned us about $250,000 in sales (in each location).”

The burger joint was able to add around 140 seats across its three locations, which Gordon said boosted profitability by around $800,000 for the year.

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A public hearing will be held in February before a decision is made by the city.

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