Saanich council unanimously opted to continue a program that allows restaurants and cafes to keep expanded outdoor service areas open through June 2022.
The temporary seating areas authorize business owners to utilize parking space for patio use, helping to maximize operations, follow public health orders and maintain social distancing requirements.
“These expanded service areas have been a vital component that allowed restaurateurs to remain in business during difficult waves of the COVID-19 pandemic, and has helped with retaining staff because they had more certainty around their workplace,” Mayor Fred Haynes said.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch implemented these temporary measures in the first re-opening phases. The authorization was set to expire Oct. 31, but has since been extended to further help businesses get back on their feet.
Graeme Macaloney, owner of Macaloney’s Caledonian Distillery and Twa Dogs Brewery in Saanich, said the tent set up outside his business on Enterprise Crescent helped he and his staff feel a sense of security as they navigated the trials and tribulations of the global health crisis.
“At first it was really quite terrifying and we didn’t know where things would go,” he said. “This patio (rule change) came out and it was a godsend, and it has since turned out to be a remarkable success story.”
While they’ve had an outdoor patio in place for five years, Macaloney said the area has been more popular than ever since the expansion was enabled. He is grateful to Saanich for expediting the change and to Greater Victoria locals who supported the business.
“This has turned out to be a massive success in terms of being able to bring back staff we originally had to let go, and we’ve even been able to add more staff.”
Macaloney said heaters will be installed on the patio for the winter months, as they plan on continuing to tap this temporary asset.
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