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COVID-19: Penticton waives patio permit fees, launches picnic campaign to support small business

The City of Penticton is launching a new “Picnic Penticton” initiative, waiving patio permit fees and closing a downtown parking lane to support the struggling food and beverage sector as B.C. is expected to announce an extension of restrictions banning indoor dining.

The picnic program aims to encourage customers to support small businesses by ordering takeout and eating the food at local parks.

Thirty-six tables will be set up throughout the city’s public parks, in addition to the permanent picnic tables that are already there.

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Downtown Kelowna businesses push for street closure earlier than scheduled

A promotional campaign will accompany the initiative, which is expected to launch in May.

“Today, as Canada celebrates National Takeout Day, we’re excited to announce our Picnic Penticton initiative, which aims to build on the great energy already created by the Chamber and DPA,” said Carly Lewis, the city’s economic development manager.

Click to play video: Will the high COVID-19 case count during B.C.’s ‘circuit breaker’ mean more restrictions?

“This program will be an ideal opportunity to order takeout food or drinks and take your picnic to one of our outdoor spaces. In addition to our permanent picnic tables, we will be distributing 36 additional tables throughout the parks, providing plenty of opportunities for picnicking.”

The business community is asking the city to take further measures, such as waiving patio and sidewalk fees, and even closing some downtown streets temporarily so businesses can expand their outdoor operations.

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The city said it is considering recommendations from the COVID-19 Safe Restart Task Force, which includes temporary road closures to extend pedestrian and sidewalk use on various streets and expediting patio permit applications.

“We are working with several local businesses on establishing new patios, reopening patios from last year, and expanding existing patios,” Lewis said in an email.

“Council has waived all permit fees for patio applications in an effort to support businesses who wish to utilize patio space, and we are working closely with the Liquor Branch on necessary amendments to liquor licensing for patio space through the Temporary Expanded Service Area (TESA) authorization program.”

The City of Penticton is also closing the east parking lane in the 200 block of Martin Street to allow businesses to permanently extend their patios.

“There are several businesses on this block that will benefit from extended patio space in a prime downtown location,” Lewis said.

Meanwhile, businesses are encouraged to register for the free Picnic Penticton promotional campaign, which will include an interactive map and social media campaign.

They will also be provided with complimentary ‘picnic packs’ to distribute to customers.

Click to play video: Party boat stays afloat despite heightened restrictions

Penticton’s pilot project for responsible outdoor public consumption of alcohol at designated parks – also in support of the city’s Love Local campaign – will be presented to city council on April 20, with a proposed start date of May 4.

Further details about Picnic Penticton will be made available soon at

Other communities in the Okanagan are also taking steps to support the hospitality sector as another round of restrictions during B.C.’s COVID-19 third wave takes a bite out of profits.

Read more:
COVID — Sweeping new restrictions in place including in-person dining at B.C. bars and restaurants

The Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen announced last week that it will expedite building permit applications for deck or patio expansions for the commercial hospitality business.

The City of Kelowna is considering plans to shut down parts of downtown Bernard Avenue to vehicle traffic for a second summer, so businesses can use more of the sidewalk and street space.

Click to play video: Downtown Kelowna businesses pushing for early closure on Bernard Ave.

The planned shutdown is proposed to begin July 1, but some business owners want the closure to begin sooner to combat indoor dining restrictions.

A provincial health order went into effect late last month that stated all food and liquor-serving premises must only provide takeout or delivery service. Dine-in service is prohibited, except for outdoor patios.

The restrictions were set to expire on April 19, but the British Columbia Restaurant And Food Services Association (BCRFA) said it’s been informed the ban on in-person dining will likely be extended through the May long weekend.

The BCRFA email to its members went on to say stakeholders talked to provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry about “inconsistency and confusion in regards to patios” and they will be working with B.C.’s top doctor to develop clearer guidelines around patios.

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