Consultation could prolong plans to support Vernon’s downtown restaurants suffering from the latest COVID-19 regulations.
With the closure of indoor dining across B.C., area coffee shops, pubs and restaurants have had to improvise with outdoor patios. Therefore the City of Vernon is looking at closing 30th Avenue and providing tables and chairs to businesses that need them, so that they can expand their patios even further into the street.
“This came up very quick, and although I fundamentally agree with it and I personally am in favour of it I’m concerned that we didn’t do consultation with the community, with businesses in the area,” said Coun. Kelly Fehr, after hearing from several other businesses along 30th Avenue.
The closure is anticipated to begin May 13 and continue through to Sept. 6, between 29th and 31st streets from 9 a.m. Thursday morning until 9 a.m. Monday morning.
“Time is of the essence here. We have two weeks until our next meeting, if we decide at the next meeting we need consultation we lose another two weeks,” Coun. Brian Quiring said.
Further discussions will take place at the May 10 council meeting.
The three key considerations that participating businesses need to be aware of are:
• Liquor service – If the business wants to serve liquor in the space, approval is required from the Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch (LCRB) if the business hasn’t already secured a Temporary Expanded Service Area Authorization. At its Oct. 26, 2020, meeting council passed a resolution extending its blanket pre-approval to establishments who apply for expanded service areas under LCRB Policy Directive No.20-13 (which allows restaurants to make a simplified application to expand their liquor service areas) until Oct. 31 ,2021.
• Complete the Temporary Outdoor Commercial Use Agreement – There is no application and no fee for this. Its purpose is twofold:
a. The business needs to provide proof of insurance naming the city as an additional insured.
b. The tables and chairs must be set up to ensure corridors are free for pedestrians, cyclists and emergency vehicles. The rules regarding set up are supplied to the business through this process.
Businesses can email email@example.com to get information and complete the process.
• Prevailing Public Health Officer Orders must be adhered to – Use of the space must always be in compliance with any prevailing orders from the Public Health Officer or other provincial government requirement related to the pandemic response.
There is a public petition at change.org which has 300 signatures in favour of closing ‘Main Street’ to vehicle traffic.
“Last year the City of Kelowna blocked off parts of Bernard Avenue downtown and there was an overwhelming positive response both from businesses and customers,” said William Oordt-Bosman, who started the petition. “Every day last summer downtown Kelowna had a very upbeat atmosphere and it is time that city council takes steps to provide the same experience to the citizens of Vernon.”