At least half a dozen Maple Ridge restaurants and pubs are hoping to expand their sidewalk cafes or outdoor patios – and fast.
As the province begins to slowly re-open following the COVID pandemic and stay at home order, people are starting to head back to their favourite eateries and water holes. And while many of those establishments in town have, or are in the process of, re-opening – with all the necessary social distancing regulations and safety requirements in place, some local business owners report needing to expand their seating capacity if they have a hope of surviving.
Some are looking to create or expand sidewalk cafes and outdoor patios, and the city is doing its part to help bring those request to reality quickly, confirmed economic development director Wendy Dupley.
Maple Ridge council voted last week to give staff the authority to expedite such approvals.
“This expedited process will assist restaurants, coffee shops, pubs and craft breweries in accommodating social distancing requirements by increasing the number of seats available for their customers,” Dupley said.
She pointed out that on June 10, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updated the public health order to allow restaurants and pubs to offer seating based on physical distancing versus a set 50 per cent of capacity.
“We encourage owners and operators to reach out to us so we can provide them with the criteria to move these applications through the process quickly and efficiently,” she said.
The speed with which the city can process applications will vary depending on whether the proposal is for a sidewalk cafe, if a patio is on private or public property, and the location of each business, Dupley explained.
But, she confirmed late Tuesday that the city has six inquiries that are at the pre-application stage, and one – which was turned around in 24 hours by staff – is now awaiting Liquor & Cannabis Regulation Branch approval.
“Our goal is to be flexible to get new outdoor seating in place to assist with the economic viability of our hospitality industry in Maple Ridge,” Dupley said.
Mayor Mike Morden chimed in.
“Council is committed to do all we can to support the business restart given the obvious challenges,” he said. “The local hospitality industry is a vibrant part of Maple Ridge’s economy and a large employer for citizens.”
For further information or to submit an application, businesses can contact Wendy Dupley at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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