Patios in B.C. can apply to become permanent under new liquor regulations, dependent on municipality

Patios in B.C. can apply to become permanent under new liquor regulations, dependent on municipality

Over 2,000 temporary patios authorized to serve liquor during the COVID-19 pandemic will be eligible to apply to become permanent under amended provincial liquor regulations.

As part of an election promise from the NDP, Solicitor General Mike Farnworth announced on Tuesday that restaurants can now apply to keep their temporary expanded service areas (TESAs) as permanent fixtures of their business.

“Temporary patios have been a lifeline for so many businesses and workers in the hospitality sector, and we’re committed to making these expanded serving areas part of their long-term recovery and beyond,” said Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General.

The government has created a transition period that is intended to allow ensure “existing and prospective TESAs can operate without interruption” as they move toward becoming a permanent part of B.C.’s hospitality landscape.

This transition period will extend the authorization of existing TESAs for an additional seven months, through to June 1, 2022.

Additionally, applications for new TESAs will be accepted up to Oct. 31, 2021.

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These transitional changes will give businesses time to apply to make their current TESA authorizations permanent and prevent the risk of disrupting TESA use during the application process.

While the B.C. government will be accepting applications from restaurants in order to convert their patios to permanent fixtures, permission will ultimately fall on the shoulder of municipal governments.

Local governments and Indigenous Nations will have until July 30, 2021, to raise concerns about existing TESA authorizations in their jurisdiction before those temporary authorizations are extended by six months.

The B.C. government says that because some patios had only interim support intended to help businesses weather the pandemic, local governments and Indigenous Nations will need to evaluate structures and outdoor licensed areas in terms of their community’s unique requirements and approach to outdoor dining before those features are made permanent.

“TESAs have been a make-or-break opportunity for so many operations struggling through these uncommon and difficult times,” said Ian Tostenson, president and CEO, BC Restaurant and Foodservices Association. “This timely announcement, and the certainty it will afford our members in the months and years ahead, are welcome news.”

Businesses wishing to make their current TESA authorization permanent must apply for a new outdoor patio permanent structural change if their TESA is located outdoors or a new interior service area permanent structural change if their TESA is located indoors. Applications can be found online here.

The provincial government emphasizes that all permanent approval of TESAs must meet all local bylaws and requirements (e.g., related to parking, building code and the use of public land).

Graham CoxGraham Cox

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