These tables might be empty now but not for long because the popularity of patios is not going away anytime soon, and that’s good news to Jam Cafe owner, Jim Walmsley.
“We’ll keep it going as long as it’s sunny and decent weather as long as people want to sit outside, we’re going to keep it going as long as possible.”
There are currently 95 patios for bars, pubs and restaurants in Victoria.
The city allowed patio dining at a time during the pandemic when indoor dining wasn’t possible.
Council moved one step closer to making them permanent by voting to extend the existing permits until October 31, 2022.
That’s a move in the right direction, according to Jeff Bray, executive director of the Downtown Victoria Business Association.
“This program in the city you know brought in as part of their build back Victoria in response to COVID was really critical in helping restaurants and lounges, you know, survive and keep your staff working.”
“So it’s definitely, definitely saved my business for sure by having the patio,” Walmsley said.
Jam Cafe’s six patio tables were critical to keeping its doors open.
“It’s made a huge difference. It was a very big lifeline for us, and I’m not sure how we would have made it to the summer actually without it. Having this patio is just made it easier for us to get through the whole summer and a little bit of the fall here.”
Victoria’s mayor, Lisa Helps, said the program to create patio space is an unqualified success in transforming neighbourhoods, and will continue.
“We’re going to extend the temporary program all the way out till October 2022 and in the meantime, create a patio bylaw so that the changes that have been implemented to respond to the pandemic become permanent,” said Helps.
City Council will work on a payment schedule in the future for restaurants and bars with patios as well.
In addition, Bray feels that another benefit has come along with the updated patio rules.
“What really also occurred was we developed a real sense of patio culture in Victoria and people walk through those patios and love them,” Bray said.
What started as a measure to help businesses is transforming parts of the city.