A Victoria councillor wants the city to look into keeping the restaurant patios that sprung up during the pandemic around indefinitely in some neighbourhoods.
Coun. Sharmarke Dubow’s motion will be considered at Victoria’s committee of the whole meeting on Thursday. It seeks to have staff look into permanently closing down some street sections to vehicle traffic to facilitate public space and zones for permitted commercial use.
The motion asks the city to use Fernwood as a pilot program for the permanent closures after a request from the neighbourhood’s restaurants. A letter penned by the Restaurants of Fernwood Square said the hospitality industry – especially small businesses – were subject to the disproportionate brunt of restrictions and public health orders.
“We are grateful that early on in the pandemic, our elected officials and staff at the City of Victoria snapped into action, pivoting to tear down red tape to allow us to quickly expand our outdoor spaces into the boulevards, sidewalks, and streets,” the letter to mayor and council said.
“This agility has been vital to our restaurants surviving the pandemic.”
The restaurant group went on to say that adding outdoor seating to Gladstone Avenue transformed Fernwood Village into a lively and sunny streetscape.
Dubow’s motion asks staff to identify how to facilitate closing down certain lanes or full roadways, and use the 1300-block of Gladstone Avenue, from Fernwood Street to Stanley Avenue, as a permanent patio pilot program.
“Patios are not only essential to ensuring our survival in a post-COVID-19 world, but our neighbours and patrons love them, too,” the letter said. “Sleepy Gladstone Avenue is now vibrant, walkable and as many of our patrons have noted, rather European.”
Victoria’s Business Recovery from Pandemic Bylaw allows restaurants to extend their temporary patio permit until Oct. 31. Dubow’s motion recommends that staff report back to council to update and extend the bylaw before that date.
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