Wednesday March 31, 2021 | LANGFORD, BC
by Mary P Brooke, Editor | Island Social Trends
Langford City Council was on the leading edge of the curve last year when it authorized local restaurants and other businesses faced with COVID-related reduced capacity to include patios and municipal boulevards within their business footprint. The pandemic was first declared in BC on March 17, 2020 and even by April a wide range of businesses were feeling the economic hit. In the west shore, that notably included the restaurant sector.
In their continued effort to respond to the needs of business during ongoing COVID pandemic, earlier this month, Langford Council (at their March 15, 2021 meeting) approved an amendment to ‘Sidewalk Use Bylaw No. 1917’ to enable restaurants and retail businesses to expand their operations onto sidewalks, boulevards, and other common areas for up to three years under a single sidewalk use permit.
This change comes from businesses indicating that they would like to invest in exterior capital improvements to support outdoor dining and expanded business capacity. Under the previous bylaw, any permit issued would be subject to an annual renewal. With the amended bylaw, businesses can plan for longer time horizons and therefore better justify their investment in any capital improvements.
“Council has recognized that the implications of the pandemic are still a major challenge for many local businesses,” says Langford Mayor Stew Young.
“Through this bylaw amendment, we have cut the red tape to make the process of expanding a patio or storefront this spring simple and efficient, while ensuring the safety of customers and staff,” says Mayor Young.
In a release from the City yesterday, help was extended to helping businesses to “find creative solutions to realize pre-pandemic revenues” that are in alignment with provincial health regulations and the requirements of Work Safe BC. Staff will work directly with businesses to process the approval of sidewalk use permit applications in a timely manner.
City staff have already started to contact businesses to proactively assist with further patio and storefront expansions, it was stated in a release yesterday.
Businesses interested in applying for a sidewalk use permit may contact the Manager of Business Development at 250-391-3403.
The big picture:
Langford has for several years been pursuing the goal of growing its population and business base, an intertwined matter of attention to housing development (including the construction sector and real estate), building schools (to accommodate the influx of families), attracting businesses (to increase the tax base), and recreation (with a penchant for focussing on sports activities).
An overarching goal in all this to maintain a good base of jobs for people locally, with the additional benefit of reducing the need for commuting to other parts of the region for work. Last month a new BC Government building in Langford became fully operational as part of that goal.
Earlier this month, the City of Langford tied itself even closer to the local SD62 school district for the purpose of planning capital development around schools which are also then used by the community in various capacities.
Economic recovery and food security are linked (Island Social Trends, March 31, 2021)
On-the-street film production in Langford April 1 (Island Social Trends traffic advisory, March 30, 2021)