Surrey slashes red tape for pandemic patio program

Surrey also offers limited grants for patio improvements

The City of Surrey is making it easier for local restaurants to obtain permits for putting tables on sidewalks and parking lots | Photo: travnikovstudio/Getty Images

Surrey city council has approved fee waivers and grants for restaurants intending to expand patios in parking lots and on sidewalks.

Through the “Parking to Patios” initiative, restaurants can now apply for free to set up tables and chairs in private parking lots or public sidewalks and street parking spaces, with certain safety conditions.

The city will also waive a $500 security deposit and, if applicable, waive city road and right-of-way use and traffic obstruction permit fees, which can cost, on average, $2,000.

The city also has $143,328 for grants (the Facade Enhancement Grant) to cover 30% of patio improvements, up to $3,000 per restaurant.

Developed in 2020 in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, Surrey has processed 18 “Parking to Patios” applications for local restaurants to allow them to host more guests in a safer outdoor setting.

“Surrey’s restaurants are critical to our local economy and that’s why Council is acting quickly to put supports in place to help local restaurateurs,” said Mayor Doug McCallum. 

“The application process is easy, streamlined, and the approval process is fast, so these businesses can make the most of the upcoming warmer weather, while ensuring patrons can dine in a safe environment with the required physical distancing measures in place.”

In May 2020, the city counted 799 restaurants without a liquor license and 284 with one.

Council unanimously approved the aid package on Monday night.

Coun. Laurie Guerra did caution the city to ensure any patios on streets were properly secured, citing a recent accident in New York City where a car crashed into such a patio. 

The city will also need to ensure expanded patios do not impede pedestrians, although a staff report indicates bike lanes could be obstructed if deemed reasonable.

The business community welcomed the assistance Tuesday.

“The Surrey Board of Trade is pleased that the City of Surrey has listened to the needs of the business community in deciding to make the program affordable and inclusive,” said Anita Huberman, CEO of the Surrey Board of Trade. 

“This is an industry that has been one of the hardest hit – they need solutions. Now we need to see how many restaurants will participate.”

Applications can be submitted to the permitapplication@surrey.ca.

gwood@glaciermedia.ca