Metro Vancouver cities including North Vancouver, Delta, and Vancouver are extending temporary patio programs into the fall and winter to help support physical distancing and other COVID-19 health protocols at restaurants, breweries, pubs and cafes.
The City of Surrey said its pop-up patio program has been extended until Oct. 31 and may possibly be allowed to continue into the winter.
Several motions were brought forward to city councils this week to allow businesses to keep their pop-up patios open as colder, wet weather approaches by winterizing them with heaters, temporary roofing, awnings or secured tents.
Vancouver council voted unanimously Wednesday night to extend the city's temporary patios this fall and winter and to make them part of every summer season.
Executive director of the Yaletown Business Improvement Association Annette O'Shea told council that restaurant owners have said the pop-up patios have helped them survive the downturn in business due to COVID-19.
O'Shea said the city could also expand the concept.
"We would like to see the patios throughout the winter. We would also like to see expanded use of the patios to non-restaurants. We have a lot of [hair] salons who are looking for extra chairs outside because they also lost capacity."
On Monday, North Vancouver Mayor Linda Buchanan brought forward a motion to extend the city's parklets and temporary patio program during the COVID-19 pandemic, and to allow for businesses to winterize the spaces. The move received unanimous support from council.
Buchanan said the pandemic and rules to limit its spread have been detrimental to local businesses. She hopes the patio program will provide some financial help.
"Anything that we can do to be supporting our businesses to be viable was something that we're going to get behind, you know, for us a lot of our business across the city is small business. And so we need to be doing as much as we can to be able to support their viability."
The City of Delta gave the green light to keep its expanded patio program indefinitely at Monday's council meeting.
President and CEO of the B.C. Restaurant and Foodservices Association, Ian Tostenson, said restaurants are under increased financial pressures from decreased capacity to accommodate the two-metre physical distancing requirement and a recent change by the B.C. government to stop liquor sales after 10 p.m.
Tostenson said councils need to act fast for businesses to prepare for wet weather.
"Decisions are critical right now and we're down to days because it takes several weeks, if not more for restaurants to sort of arrange what the concept is for their winter patio," said Tostenson.
He said extended patios have allowed people to enjoy themselves during the pandemic and have given businesses some relief.
"If you have a patio, it allows you to take your capacity and spread it out. So you might be able to get another 20 seats, 25 seats, 30 seats, which really becomes important when you're looking at the overall economics of all restaurant operators."
Tostenson pointed to popular, outdoor venues set up for the 2010 Winter Olympics as an example of how they can be successful even in Vancouver's cold season.