Surrey city council is expected to consider a motion Monday calling for the cancellation of city fees related to restaurants setting up patio spaces, to help them weather the economic storm caused by the pandemic. It will also consider a second motion aimed at giving local Business Improvement Associations a helping hand.
Councillor Linda Annis presented two notice of motions to these ends, at the June 15 council meeting.
She noted Surrey’s BIAs are important to the city’s economic development. But because a BIA’s revenues are tied to property taxes, and seeing as the city is allowing residents and businesses to defer their taxes because of COVID-19, the BIAs will receive their annual funding three months late.
“This will create a financial hardship on our BIAs, forcing them to use lines of credit,” she said.
Annis asked city staff to investigate paying out a portion of their assessment, based on what the city collects on July 2, and pay the BIAs that percentage by Aug. 15.
“In other words, if the city has collected 70 per cent of taxes by July 2 then we should pay the BIAs 70 per cent of what we owe them, rather than making them wait.”
Annis also maintains that city fees related to the patio approval process should be cancelled.
“It was a great idea that could have had real attraction for our 800-plus restaurants but unfortunately only one restaurant has actually been able to sign up to date,” she said.
“We want our restaurants back in business and that means giving them the chance to open patios as a way to social distance,” Annis said.
“The fees need to go and the red tape at city hall needs to be cut if this good idea is going to get real traction with our 800 local restaurants.
“Most restaurants are having really tough go and the last thing they need to worry about right now is having to pay fees to city hall to save their businesses.”