The Surrey Board of Trade is calling on city hall to waive its Parking to Patio program fees so “way more” restaurants will have a chance to stay in business during the pandemic.
And now with the new public health rules announced Monday, making patio dining and take-out service the only options open to pubs and restaurants until April 19, Surrey Councillor Linda Annis says this has become even more urgent.
“Our hospitality businesses continue to be the hardest hit by the pandemic and we should be doing everything we can to give our restaurants and pubs a fighting chance, with tougher COVID rules,” Annis said Monday. “Vancouver has thought outside of the box, meanwhile we seem to be treating temporary patios as a nuisance.”
Last year, only 12 signed onto the program, which came with a $200 application fee, a $500 damage deposit, a $500 traffic control fee for local and low-volume roads, and a $1,400 bill per parking stall on busier roads that required the installation of jersey safety barriers. While this was all split 50/50 between the city and businesses, the price was still too rich for many establishments.
Anita Huberman, CEO of the board of trade, is calling on city hall to waive these fees so more restaurants can affordably set up temporary seating for customers outdoors during the spring, summer and fall.
She noted that more than 10,000 restaurants have shut down across Canada on account of the pandemic.
“We want as many restaurants as possible to participate in the city’s expanded patio program in 2021,” Huberman said, “but it has to be easy for them to apply, with a low-cost permit, expedient application approvals. Customized patio solutions are need as well. This is an industry that has been one of the hardest hit – they need solutions.”
Huberman said SBoT members haven’t yet heard yet what the city has in store for this year. She suggests landlords work with city hall and their restaurant tenants to “free up space, create solutions around parking, install concrete letdowns for sidewalks where needed, signage and so forth.”
Last July the Safe Surrey Coalition majority on council rejected a motion to waive permit fees for restaurants and pubs that wanted to expand their patio space to try to recoup business lost to COVID-19.