COQUITLAM, B.C., June 3, 2020 – Coquitlam has introduced a simple, expedited process to help businesses set up temporary patios and outdoor spaces in as little as two days.
On Monday, Council approved a temporary outdoor space expansion program that will enable Coquitlam businesses to quickly and easily expand their food, liquor and retail services outdoors on their own property during the pandemic. As a second phase of the program, City staff are exploring the potential use of untravelled portions of sidewalks, roads and other public rights-of-way for similar purposes.
Fast-tracked Process Introduced
Based on the provincial Restart Plan, some Coquitlam restaurants and retailers are resuming operations with appropriate public health measures such as physical distancing. However, with indoor space reduced to about half capacity, some businesses are looking to expand outdoors – where there is less risk of COVID-19 transmission – to help make ends meet.
The City is simplifying the application process for temporary outdoor spaces on private property in several ways:
- Eliminating the usual requirement for a building permit for outdoor seating, tents and canopies;
- Fast-tracking liquor licence changes for the temporary spaces by pre-approving any applications by local restaurants, pubs and breweries;
- Suspending the typical City review for parking and siting requirements;
- Educating businesses on their responsibility for safely installing and operating the new spaces;
- Waiving the requirement for business licence changes for the temporary spaces; and
- Using electronic submissions and tracking of applications.
With this expedited process, Coquitlam businesses could set up an outdoor space in as little as two days.
The Building Permits division will monitor the new files until the program winds down. Updated guidelines for the use of public rights-of-way are anticipated by mid-June.
A Flexible Approach to Support Businesses
The outdoor space program is an example of the flexible, reasonable approach Coquitlam is taking to bylaws and policies during the pandemic. To support businesses, the City has been considering ways to streamline and relax regulations that do not negatively affect public health or community wellbeing.
For example, the City has introduced the use of digital signatures, and temporarily changed its development fee structures to allow developers to defer most of the costs of providing City services (such as water and sewer) on their sites to later in the application process.
Assistance for businesses is also being provided through the COVID-19 Economic Development Response and Recovery Action Plan and the City’s related multi-sector Community Support and Recovery Plan. A summary of business supports and resources is available through a new portal at www.letstalkcoquitlam.ca/business .
Join Coquitlam’s Efforts to #SupportLocal
The City of Coquitlam has joined the Tri-Cities #SupportLocal campaign to assist local businesses, many of which are struggling at this time. Coquitlam strongly encourages residents to #SupportLocal for their shopping and meals; view business listings at www.wegotthistricities.com and www.visitcoquitlam.ca for a directory of 150+ Coquitlam restaurants offering takeout and delivery.
The City has also posted a video at www.youtube.com/cityofcoquitlam to inspire the community to #SupportLocal.
Supporting Our Community During the Pandemic
The City of Coquitlam is here to help, with these resources:
- Visit www.coquitlam.ca/csrp to learn about the City’s Community Support and Recovery Plan, which is providing immediate and long-term support for the non-profit sector, businesses and residents;
- Visit www.coquitlam.ca/spirit for a free library of activities for all ages, including fitness, arts and culture, outdoor activities and ways to connect with your community; and
- Visit www.coquitlam.ca/covid19 for updates on City services and initiatives and COVID-19 health resources.
Coquitlam residents and businesses are also encouraged to follow the City of Coquitlam on social media (Facebook, Instagram and Twitter) and download the CoquitlamConnect mobile app for up-to-date City information. Links are available at www.coquitlam.ca/connect.