The Town of Qualicum Beach is planning to amend its bylaw to allow the use of public space for patios in the Village neighbourhood.
The town currently has a bylaw that regulates public patios or sidewalk cafes, provided a sidewalk cafe licence has been otained.
Now council wants to include other possible configurations that would allow patios to be established on street parking spaces. They voted that staff be directed to bring forward an amendment to the bylaw.
Coun. Scott Harrison favours the sidewalk cafes but is worried about the requirements of the province’s liquor and cannabis registration branch, one of the regulatory agencies involved in outdoor patio space, for restaurants and cafes to submit floor plans and a referral to the local government.
“Even if it was just potentially like two tables on a sidewalk, they might require architect drawings,” said Harrison, who indicated this is an added burden on owners. He suggested the town reach out to Parksville Qualicum Beach MLA Adam Walker to clarify the provincial requirements.
Harrison wants the province to afford local governments some flexibility in granting restaurants the permit to set up a patio service.
“These are small businesses,” said Harrison. “These are a couple of restaurants in town that are taking advantage of this and I’d hate to see them have to go through 30 pages of paperwork and spend thousands and thousands of dollars to put tables on a sidewalk. It would just seem a little bit of overkill. So it might be a good conversation to have.”
Town planner Luke Sales said the development variance permit here does not address the liquid control issues. And for smaller applications, Sales indicated they have not encountered a scenario that requires architectural drawings for most extensions. He said he can discuss the issue with the building inspector and possibly with Walker.
Harrison made it clear he’s not advocating this issue as a good idea. He merely wants more flexibility for local governments.