Jamie Day, general manager of the Prairie Inn Neighbourhood Pub, praised Central Saanich’s decision to move ahead with plans that would allow restaurants to create patios in parking lots.

Saanich Peninsula communities create more outdoor space for eateries

Central Saanich and Sidney are moving ahead with various measures

A restaurant operator in Central Saanich welcomes that municipality’s decision to push ahead with plans that would allow restaurants to create patios in parking lots as a response to existing COVID-19 pandemic regulations.

Council last month asked staff to work with governing regulatory bodies toward the creation of a temporary process that would allow commercial and retail property owners and businesses to apply for commercial use and access in private parking lots, as well as municipal parking lots, boulevards, and municipal rights of ways. Staff will also look into other temporary land-use considerations which may support businesses in their gradual and safe re-opening.

Jamie Day, general manager of the Prairie Inn Neighbourhood Pub, praises this move because it levels the playing field. Some restaurants like his do not have patios that would allow them to move some of their operations outdoors, he said.

RELATED: Sidney blocks off parking spaces to create more sidewalk

Day said last month that he hopes to make this move as soon as possible, while also acknowledging remaining bureaucratic obstacles. “We are just waiting on stuff, but the wheels are in motion,” he said in praising council.

Council’s decision came after councillors moved up a notice of motion from Coun. Niall Paltiel into an action item.

Paltiel explained he had heard from owners and operators of several local food and beverage businesses, including Day.

Paltiel said the municipality will consider applications on a case-by-case basis and within broader circumstances, including mobility and transportation issues.

Paltiel also suggested that these temporary measures might become permanent as part of a larger agenda to liven up the commercial centres (Saanichton, Brentwood Bay) of the municipality.

Sidney has also taken comparable steps. On Monday, councillors adopted amendments to two bylaws. One set of amendments would allow food service businesses to use up to 50 per cent of their outdoor parking spots without an overall loss of accessible parking spaces. The amendments — which passed unanimously — will be temporary for no more than six months. Another set of amendments would allow cafes with sidewalk cafe areas to extend beyond the edge of sidewalk with provisions subject to a time limit of no more than six months.

Councillors also stressed the need to ensure accessibility.

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