Langley patios will have more space this summer in Langley Township, after council passed a motion allowing pubs and restaurants to expand into parking lots.
The vote was held at a special council meeting called for Monday afternoon by Councillors Kim Richter and Eric Woodward. Coun. Bob Long also put forward a motion calling for the rules changes.
Five local craft breweries jointly asked for patio expansion rules earlier this month.
Lance Verhoeff of Trading Post Brewery, one of the five, spoke to council before they voted.
“Our revenue over the last two months during the COVID period dropped 80 per cent,” Verhoeff said. That was with them attempting to do as much take-out and liquor delivery as possible.
“Of course, through COVID, our hospitality industry has been hit hard,” he said. “There will be lots of restaurants and bars and hospitality groups that will not make it through this, and I have heard a lot of situations like this, and it has been very tough.”
Giving more space would be a boon to restaurants and bars, and not just to the operators, but also for staff, Verhoeff said.
They say temporary rule changes are needed to allow them to serve patrons while also maintaining physical distancing, given that there is a 50-per-cent reduction in seating capacity to keep diners safe during the slow reopening.
The municipal motion approved this week allows for parts of the parking bylaw to be suspended (although disability parking is still protected) and allows for a simplified process to issue permits for firms to use certain public space, such as sidewalks.
The motion also allows Township staff to waive permit costs for those applying for patio extensions, highway use permits, development applications, or other related fees.
Long noted that permits for changes will still be required because the Township needs to make sure sidewalks remain safe.
A motion by Richter was adopted, ensuring that wineries are specifically included in the temporary rules.
The rules will apply to restaurants, pubs, breweries, wineries, and other eating and drinking establishments around the community.
Provincial regulations have been relaxed, as well, with the B.C. government allowing cities and towns to adjust their own local regulations.