VANCOUVER City Council is slated to vote next week on a staff report recommending the first expansion of seating capacity in Vancouver’s pubs, bars and nightclubs in decades.
This follows Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart’s motion designed to aid Vancouver’s hospitality industry that passed last July. The proposal is welcome news for hospitality owners hampered by significantly lower seating capacities when compared to liquor-primary establishments located in neighbouring cities.
“This change is a lifeline for Vancouver bars, nightclubs, and pubs hard hit by the impacts of COVID-19” said Stewart. “The seating capacity increases proposed will deliver long overdue reforms and help revive nightlife in our city, especially along the Granville Entertainment District.”
According to Hospitality Vancouver Association (HVA), the proposed capacity changes will save up to 8,000 jobs in the City of Vancouver. “We’re extremely impressed with the thoughtfulness and attention to detail of the staff report, and we are looking forward to the discussion about the motion at the council table on March 30,” said HVA spokesperson Laura Ballance. “It’s important to note that if passed, this motion will go a long ways towards levelling the playing field for a number of Vancouver bars, nightclubs and pubs with their counterparts across the province, as this will bring the Granville Entertainment District into line with the rest of B.C. when it comes to capacity.”
Ballance noted these changes are especially important now, as the vast majority of bars and clubs are struggling to survive the COVID-19 pandemic. Capacity numbers are expected to increase gradually as eligible businesses make the necessary changes to adhere to current B.C. Building code requirements that would come from adding additional seats. The industry estimates that seats would increase by a few thousand over the next several years.
The changes will also have a spillover effect for restaurants and other downtown businesses who will also benefit from the increase. “It is great to see the City moving on this and acknowledging the importance of small business, giving them additional tools to survive,” said Ian Tostenson, President and CEO of the British Columbia Restaurant and Foodservices Association. “Adding capacity will serve the public well, as health and safety, in this case spacing, will always be our paramount concern for our guests and patrons. A vibrant nightlife is important to the health of our Vancouver restaurants”.
The report will come to Council Wednesday, March 31.