Parksville council met virtually on May 20 and discussed how they can support businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic. (File photo)

COVID-19: Parksville council votes to let businesses use public space for expansion

As B.C. enters Phase 2, businesses start to reopen using social distancing protocols

Parksville city council is looking at helping businesses in the same way its counterparts in Qualicum Beach decided to last week: by letting them use streets and sidewalks.

It’s a move other municipalities have looked into as well, as British Columbia moves into Phase 2 of its COVID-19 restart plant, which includes the reopening of businesses.

Shops and restaurants have had to come up with a plan to reopen safely with help from WorkSafeBC, which includes having fewer people than usual in shops and restaurants.

READ MORE: COVID-19: Qualicum Beach council to look at how businesses can utilize street space

READ MORE: COVID-19: B.C. restaurants can host dine-in guests again, but what will that look like?

Coun. Marilyn Wilson brought forward the motion at a May 20 council meeting held via Zoom.

It was then amended so that the licences of occupation (agreements allowing the non-exclusive occupation of crown land under certain terms) would be delegated to the corporate officer, allowing staff to approve them. The amended motion passed unanimously after council agreed it would expedite the process.

The motion as amended reads: “THAT in response to COVID-19, staff be directed to implement a process whereby the Mayor and Corporate Officer may issue licences of occupation to permit local businesses to utilize public sidewalk spaces and public parking areas for the purpose of additional seating or safe queuing. 2. THAT business owners be permitted to use their onsite private parking to expand their seating without triggering requirements for City permits.”

Mayor Ed Mayne said he thought the amendment made the process simpler and added that many businesses already have their own outdoor space that they’re allowed to utilize.

“I think we’re making it way too complicated, if it’s on your property, go for it,” he said. “If you want to sacrifice two or three parking spots on your property so that you can expand a patio, go for it, I think it’s the right thing for you to do as long as its safe – we don’t need to be involved with it at all.”

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