‘It’s changed this area’: 5th Street Grill launches petition to keep boulevard patio

'It's changed this area': 5th Street Grill launches petition to keep boulevard patio

A popular pub in Victoria’s Hillside-Quadra neighbourhood has been operating differently over the past few years by expanding outdoors, all thanks to the city’s Build Back program.

5th Street Bar and Grill’s outdoor patio is found along a boulevard — the space between a road and a sidewalk. The popular eatery opened the space amid the COVID-19 pandemic and so far, staff say it’s been a hit.

“It just creates a totally different atmosphere,” said Heather Radloff, the restaurant’s manager.

“When you come by here in the summer, we’ve got the umbrellas up and everyone’s having a great time. I think it’s totally changed this area. There was no patio around here.”

Only now, Radloff and her colleagues are being told by city staff they must remove the picnic tables by May 31 following an updated bylaw. Pop-up patios on streets and sidewalks are acceptable, but boulevards aren’t included.

“It’s us and Beagle Pub. They’re also a boulevard,” explained Radloff.

“It’s not part of parks, which is what all the other ones are included on. This is called a boulevard, and it’s not underneath the same bylaw. They’d have to create another bylaw, I believe.”

So 5th Street staff launched an online petition last week and in just days, it’s already been signed more than 3,000 times.

“People love eating outdoors! Helps keep people healthy and avoid getting Covid or flu!” wrote one person in support. “It’s important for small business, or businesses to survive. As a small business owner I endorse this petition,” added another.

“We’re just super happy that we’ve got all these people that are behind us,” exclaimed Radloff.

But in a statement to CHEK News, the City of Victoria says the city’s patio bylaw never permitted boulevard patios — it was only a temporary fix to help support businesses amid social distancing protocols.

“The updated Patio bylaw that came to Council a few weeks back now also did not allow for boulevard patios,” read the statement issued Monday.

Coun. Chris Coleman notes that throughout COVID-19, ‘patio culture’ in Victoria became more popular than ever — with boulevards playing a part in that.

“I don’t think people understood that it was grandfathered to May 31, 2023. Now, that’s coming forward as the end date, and they have to perhaps look at taking them down. But people are saying, ‘No, we like them,'” said Coleman.

“It’s up to council to find some resolution as we move forward. I don’t know what the answer is, but I’m open to the discussion.”

Still, Radloff’s hopeful council will further amend the bylaw so they can keep operating as per usual, adding: “We just want to try and get an extension and work together (with the city) to make this work for us.”

She also says the outpouring of community support only solidifies the need to keep the outdoor space.

“It takes a village — a Quadra Village.”

To sign 5th Street Bar and Grill’s Change.org petition, visit this website.

On Monday, the City of Victoria provided CHEK News with this statement about boulevard patios.

Ethan MorneauEthan Morneau

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