Some St. Patrick’s Day hospitality may mean more green for Victoria restaurants, cafes and bars that have navigated two years of rolling shutdowns, capacity limits and other restrictions.
The city on Thursday voted to ask the province to extend the liquor licenses of pandemic-erected patios through the summer season.
“This is a summer where there are going to people who still don’t feel comfortable going into packed restaurants and having these patio areas available with essentially little red tape is good for businesses,” said Mayor Lisa Helps, who brought the motion forward with Coun. Jeremy Loveday.
Last fall, Victoria council said the dining spaces that have spread onto public streets and sidewalks since COVID-19 hit can stay until Oct. 31. However, the province’s program allowing temporary expanded service areas is set to expire on June 1.
Without an extension of that program, the motion said liquor won’t be able to be served at the temporary patios past the June end date.
After council’s approval, Victoria will now ask Premier John Horgan, local MLAs and the Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch to authorize an extension through October.
“After two years of pandemic hardship, many hospitality businesses really need a strong summer to be able to survive and get back on good footing,” Loveday said at Thursday’s council meeting.
Helps added she thinks there’s a high likelihood of the request being successful since the province has been supportive of allowing patios and expanded seating during the pandemic.
She noted the city isn’t alone, as other municipalities, small businesses and the business community have been advocating for the measure.
Loveday added the motion’s timeline would align with the city’s actions that aim to allow some pandemic patios to become permanent.
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