Langley craft beer brewers are asking for bigger patio spaces so they can serve people during COVID-19. (Photo submitted)

UPDATED: Township council to debate bigger patios for restaurants Monday

Breweries and restaurants are seeking more space for physical distancing their patrons

A special meeting will be held next week to decide if Langley Township council will allow restaurants and pubs extra patio space for physical distancing.

Earlier this month, five Langley craft brewers sent out an open letter asking for a relaxing of rules that would allow them to spread their patios into parking lots, and potentially onto sidewalks.

READ MORE: Langley craft brewers call for looser restrictions for summer patios

“This would allow breweries and restaurants to increase the number of patrons they could serve while safely observing social distancing rules and making everyone feel comfortable,” said the letter, which was signed by owners or operators of Camp Beer Co., Dead Frog Brewing, Farm Country Brewing, Five Roads Brewing, and Trading Post Brewing.

Councillors Kim Richter and Eric Woodward called on Mayor Jack Froese to call a special council meeting – online, as all recent meetings have been – on Monday, May 25 to hear speakers and debate the proposal. Coun. Bob Long separately put forward a motion calling for consideration of the same idea recently, asking for a flexible framework for patio expansion.

Froese confirmed that the meeting has been scheduled, for 1 p.m. on Monday.

“We believe that expanded outdoor patio space in Summer 2020 will assist not only the craft breweries in the Township in their Phase 2 economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic but also local restaurants, pubs, wineries, distilleries, and cideries,” the letter from the brewery owners says.

The idea is based on one that is already becoming a reality in Vancouver, where the city is calling for businesses to apply if they want to create extended patio areas.

“We’ll begin accepting applications for temporary patio permits within the next two weeks,” a Wednesday tweet from the City of Vancouver said.

The city of Vancouver will work with local business improvement areas to identify spaces, including sidewalks and parking, that could be re-purposed for local businesses.

Township staff, in an email responding to Richter’s request for info on the matter, noted that there would not likely need to be additional approvals to expand patios into private property, such as parking lots, although provincial liquor licences would be needed.

Sidewalks might be more difficult.

“Use of public areas, such as sidewalks, will likely be more challenging due to the competing demands for pedestrian passage and the need to ensure protection of public safety, which may only make such uses possible in some areas,” wrote Ramin Seifi, manager of engineering and community development.

But the provincial government announced this week it will give more power to municipalities to make such changes.

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