Burnaby businesses can now apply to expand their operations to take up part of their onsite parking after city council approved a set of zoning bylaw amendments this week.
The amendments, which were given initial reading on Monday and passed in a special meeting on Wednesday, allows business owners to apply to take up more space on site to implement temporary patios or retail displays.
The zoning bylaw regulates all properties in terms of the required parking space, allowable lot coverage and density, meaning businesses would typically need to apply for a zoning amendment to get an exception to, for instance, take up parking space for a patio. That would require a potentially months-long process, involving public hearings, but this week’s bylaw amendment removes that red tape.
The amendments also expedite that process by forgoing public hearing requirements, and they waive the application fee.
This builds on another move earlier this month in which council allowed businesses to apply to use city-owned land – primarily sidewalks – to expand patio and retail display spaces.
The temporary changes are aimed at allowing businesses to operate as close to their original capacity as possible while still accommodating physical distancing guidelines.
Restaurants have had to put up plexiglass between tables and booths and space tables out by at least two metres under provincial COVID-19 rules.
If their application is successful, businesses would be allowed to use the extra space until Oct. 31 this year. But Ed Kozak, director of planning, said the zoning bylaw amendment will be in place until the end of October next year, allowing businesses to easily access the provision again next year if COVID-related distancing guidelines are still in place.
In council on Monday, Hurley said the program gives business owners “some room to grow and flourish if they need it.”
“In consulting with our business community, it is clear that space remains at a premium as stores and restaurants begin to open in a way that ensures the safety of everyone,” Hurley said.
“We know that businesses are hurting, and that’s why we have moved quickly to provide support. … As we move forward, we will continue to consult with our business community.”