Business group asking Delta to further expand patio policy

Delta council this week unanimously agreed to continue the city’s expanded patio policy indefinitely.

The city will also support the safe winterization of patios on city property.

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The expanded patio program allows restaurants and cafés to serve more people by creating new physically distanced tables outdoors.

According to the city, 13 restaurants, cafés, pubs and breweries across Delta, so far, have taken advantage of the expanded patio program.

With the additional certainty provided by the program’s extension, combined with the city’s ability to approve patios quickly, that number could continue to increase, the city notes.

According to Restaurants Canada, roughly 10 per cent of the country’s food service businesses have already permanently closed due to the impacts of COVID-19, and most others are still losing money.

More than half of respondents to a survey that Restaurants Canada conducted during the summer said they are continuing to operate at a loss and expect to take at least a year to return to profitability.

In a letter to Delta council, Ladner Business Association president Jill McKnight said the city’s extension of the patio program will strengthen the confidence of business owners to make investments in infrastructure for the winterization of outdoor seating areas including tents, roofs and heaters.

The support of local government is imperative as business owners will incur significant costs for the infrastructure with no guarantee of return on investment, she said.

“The LBA also supports this motion being expanded to include retail uses, in addition to food and beverage services, so that all local businesses feel supported in their efforts to thrive and to find innovative solutions for creating vibrant retail districts,” she said.

“It is our hope that with the extension of the expanded patio program, more businesses, particularly those in the food services industry, will choose to engage in the expanded patio program and that we continue to see an increase in the vibrancy of our business districts.”

McKnight noted the LBA recognizes the need for continued discussion as city staff addresses the concerns of community members, as well as those of the business owners, and the association is confident that a balance can be achieved.

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