Qualicum Beach council took the first steps towards helping businesses utilize streets in an effort to allow more room for physical distancing.
The motion passed unanimously, which said that council would work with the Chamber of Commerce to help businesses find ways to use public spaces for additional seating to help support them during COVID-19.
It would be the temporary use of parking/street space and sidewalk space, allowing for a 1.5 meters of unobstructed pedestrian space.
The motion was brought forward by Coun. Scott Harrison, who said there’s a few conversations around liability and the idea of treating businesses who have existing licences of occupation (agreements allowing the non-exclusive occupation of crown land under certain terms) fairly that will still need to take place.
“We do want to make sure as we do this process if someone was to accidentally damage town property, they will be responsible for it – not the town,” said Harrison.
There was discussion around the time period of the licences of occupation, which will end on Dec. 31, 2020. Coun. Adam Walker was concerned about the length of the period being too definite.
“My concern is that we have been told by the province starting potentially as early as next week, that we will enter Stage 2. If we enter Stage 2 and all of a sudden we have the parking issues that we had previously, and we’ve got businesses that are occupying all the parking spaces, we may be creating different problems for businesses,” said Walker. “So having an open term on this, I think gives staff more flexibility.”
However, the amendment changing the end date failed. The motion passed as written.
“I think for ease of making this happen, we should just do it as written and we can address it if we need to at a later date,” said Mayor Brian Wiese.