Restaurant industry leaders call on PG City Council to support outdoor patios

A number of food and beverage industry leaders are calling on cities like Prince George to reduce the red tape associated with outdoor patios.

In one letter sent to city council last night (Monday), recommendations include expanding current patio programs without new restrictions or fees as well as streamlining the approval process for small businesses.

Ian Tostenson of the BC Food and Restaurant Association said MyPGNow.com the pandemic has really tested the hospitality industry.

“You know, we’re grateful for all the help we’ve had, especially from the federal government with the wage and rental subsidies, but we were basically operating at a 25% reduction in sales for two years. The challenges today are obviously inflation, but our greatest is our labor shortage.

According to the letter, 80% of hotel businesses are losing money and it is expected that two-thirds of these storefronts will not return to profitability for another year and a half.

Tostenson also mentioned that outdoor patios were seen as a lifeline during the early days of the pandemic for businesses and the public.

“If you had a deck last year, let’s fix it this year. The second thing that’s really important is cost – so we’ve seen some municipalities start charging for patio space and I think come on, we don’t have the money to do that – these operators have literally been through a war the last two years. »

“Virtually, for every municipality in British Columbia (during the early stages of the pandemic), there was a need to get as much outdoor dining space as possible, reduce paperwork, reduce costs because we really wanted listen to Dr. Henry who suggested we should be outside.

Earlier this month, Downtown PG president and local restaurant owner Eoin Foley also expressed frustration with the updated provincial process.

“There’s a lot more paperwork and a lot more work, one of the requirements being an engineering drawing which is going to be quite difficult for a lot of people. A lot of these (engineering) companies that are capable of those drawings don’t really want to do small projects like this.If the average cafe or restaurant wants to achieve this, they will have to pay a lot more money.

“Personally, I am in a unique situation where a member of my family is an engineer. It was much easier and much cheaper for me to go through it, but for most people it won’t really be that easy.

Last summer, PG City Council voted to authorize the Liquor and Cannabis Regulatory Branch (LCRB) to allow “primary liquor” establishments to temporarily expand service areas until June 1 from this year with more guidance expected.

However, according to the Department of Public Safety and Solicitor General, in order for licensees to operate their temporary expanded service area permanently after the expiry date of June 1, 2022, they must apply for a new permanent structural change. outdoor terrace (if their TESA is located outdoors) or a new indoor service area with permanent structural change (if their TESA is located indoors).

The Alcohol and Cannabis Regulatory Branch accepted new applications until the end of October. Additionally, as part of this process, licensees pay an application fee ranging from $330 to $440 – a one-time fee.

The Department has issued the following statement to MyPGNow.com

  • The government has heard that the June 2022 extension is too soon for some licensees and local governments to put patio policies in place and submit applications. Work is underway to identify options to meet the need for additional time for businesses and local government.
  • In June 2021, the province announced it would amend the Liquor Control and Dispensing Regulations to allow the Executive Director of the Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch (LCRB) to extend service area authorizations temporary expanded (TESA) existing (i.e. terraces) until June 1st. , 2022.
  • The extension gave time for local authorities to update their patio policies and for licensees to apply to make their TESA permits permanent and prevent the risk of business disruption during the application process.
  • All existing TESA license holders, whose local governments have not raised concerns, have received new letters of authorization automatically extending the expiry date of their temporary authorizations – at no cost to the holder – until the 1st June 2022.
  • In order for licensees to operate their TESA permanently after the expiry date of June 1, 2022, they must request a new permanent structural change of the outdoor terrace (if their TESA is located outdoors) or a new change permanent structural part of the indoor service area (if their TESA is located indoors). ). The LCRB has accepted new TESA applications until October 31, 2021. Under this process, licensees pay an application fee ranging from $330 to $440 – these are one-time fees.
  • Since support for some patios was only an interim measure to help businesses cope with the pandemic, local governments and Indigenous Nations must assess structures and permitted outdoor areas based on the unique requirements of their community and the outdoor dining approach before these temporary permits become permanent. by the LCRB.

Additionally, Prince George Chamber of Commerce CEO Todd Corrigall has submitted a letter to City Council, which may be found here.


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Cecil N. Messick