City staff and council put the bureaucratic wheels into high gear on April 6, to help restaurants open sidewalk and boulevard patios immediately.
One week ago, in response to rapidly rising COVID-19 numbers, particularly in the Lower Mainland, Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer, announced that indoor seating would not be permitted in restaurants for three weeks.
That day, businesses in Salmon Arm began asking city staff when they could set up patios.
Kevin Pearson, the city’s director of development services, explained at council’s April 6 planning meeting that the city had created a policy for sidewalk and boulevard patios several years ago. It wasn’t until last year and the pandemic, however, that two businesses, Hanoi 36 and Shuswap Pie Company, set up patios.
At the planning meeting, council agreed to change the patio policy, which contains a May 1 start date, to April 6.
Pearson explained that in order for the city to have a temporary policy, it must include start and end dates. May 1 was deemed appropriate due to weather conditions and giving city workers time to clean up the streets after winter.
However, snow left early this year and workers have already swept Hudson Avenue and Shuswap Street, he said.
Coun. Debbie Cannon asked about businesses on Alexander on Friday evenings and Saturdays when the street is closed. City staff confirmed the street, in that case, is considered a sidewalk.
Coun. Kevin Flynn said he thinks it would be good if Downtown Salmon Arm is aware council encourages use of the closed plaza.
Developer/property owner Bill Laird voiced a thank you to city crews on behalf of merchants.
He said he called the city prior to the long weekend because business owners were wanting to get patios up. The public works crew responded immediately, sweeping the streets and emptying the garbage cans.
“So we were pretty shiny for our Easter weekend,” he said.