Vancouver eyes expanding restaurant patios

Yaletown Brew Pub patio in Vancouver, British Columbia, Monday May 6, 2013. (CARMINE MARINELLI / 24 HOURS)

As Vancouverites embrace the early summer heat wave by ordering meals and drinks outside, the city’s mayor is looking to expand both the space and operating hours of restaurant patios.

Most patios in the city close by 11 p.m., but Mayor Gregor Robertson wants to implement a pilot project “as soon as possible” allowing them stay open later and add more seats on city street or sidewalk space.

“Our summer goes right through September, as we all know, so hopefully we can get a few of them going later this summer and test it from there,” the mayor said, adding he hopes a permanent policy would be in place by next year.

He said the expansion should only go ahead “where it’s not an imposition on the neighbourhood” and pointed to Gastown and Granville Street as “key locations.”

Ian Tostenson, president of the B.C. Restaurant and Foodservices Association, said dining establishments see a boost in business by as much as 30% on days patios are open.

He added the plan would be good as long as common sense is used when implementing the policy.

“You’re obviously not going to have a guy playing Mexican music at 12 o’clock at night,” he said.

“There should be a way for the city to phone up business owners and say, ‘Hey, we’re getting some complaints here, can you slow down and watch yourself a bit?’”

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