The municipality of Summerland has implemented a rapid review approval process for businesses to temporarily use sidewalks, parking stalls and roads during the present COVID-19 restrictions.
Effective immediately, businesses can use the rapid review process to set up patios to support outdoor dining as well as enhance outdoor shopping experiences. This interim rapid review process will be available for the duration of the current public health order restricting indoor dining.
Under the order, which took effect March 29, at midnight, indoor dining is prohibited, but takeout and patio service is allowed.
“With the long weekend ahead, the district is focused on being responsive to the needs of the local business community and are pleased to introduce an interim rapid approach to approvals,” said Summerland Mayor Toni Boot.
“Following our January decision to waive 2021 business licence fees, this is another example of council’s commitment to work in partnership with our local businesses during these uncertain times.”
Graham Statt, chief administrative officer for Summerland, said the initiative is the result of collaboration between the municipality and the business community. He said people in the community had been asking about outdoor space options when the restrictions were announced.
Ron Kubek, president of the Summerland Chamber, said the measures are necessary to support restaurants and pubs during the present restrictions.
“Restaurants at the best of times work on very thin margins,” he said, adding that during the COVID-19 pandemic, challenges for restaurants have been enormous.
He added that other communities in the Okanagan have already worked to allow outdoor patios on a temporary basis.
Armstrong in the North Okanagan already has such an approval policy in place. Vernon has also acted quickly to allow for outdoor dining spaces, he said.
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