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Vancouver restaurant owners want winter-patio dining option

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The COVID-19 pandemic is likely to change how Vancouverites dine this winter, much as it disrupted consumption patterns this summer.

Coun. Sarah Kirby-Yung told BIV that she plans to introduce a motion September 15 to allow owners of at least 361 temporary patios to keep them operating past October 31, when the city now requires them to close.

Her plan would mandate that the city continue to waive permit fees for these patios and change Temporary Expedited Patio Program (TEPP) requirements so restaurant owners can install heat lamps or otherwise heat the outdoor dining areas – something currently prohibited for this class of patio.

A separate city program that charges up to several thousand dollars in annual fees for a restaurant to operate a permanent patio is expected to coexist with the temporary-patio program through the winter.

“I would really expect that we need to review both programs to make sure that there is equity,” Kirby-Yung said.

Her unscientific Twitter poll in late August and early September found that 82% of respondents said they would visit restaurant patios in the city this fall and winter if given the option.

That, and a dire late-August report from the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, which estimated that 60% of restaurants could be forced to close by November, has persuaded Kirby-Yung that governments need to be flexible with regulations to help as many restaurants as possible survive the winter.

Restaurant principals, such as Banana Leaf’s Vivien Chong, told BIV that they fear losing customers if they are not able to provide them with an outdoor dining option.

Chong’s Davie Street location generated about 80% of its sales from its temporary patio after that area launched operations part-way through the summer.

While Chong said she would be willing to a small fee to be able to use the patio, she believes the city should waive fees until fear of COVID-19 and government restrictions end.

So does Steamworks Restaurant Group president of restaurant operations Carl McCreath.

“As long as we’re in a pandemic environment, where we are not able to function properly as a business, I’d like to see the fees waived,” he said.

McCreath, who oversees operations at Steamworks in Gastown, as well as three Rogue Kitchen + Wetbar locations, has permanent and temporary patios.

He said the city has many regulations around how restaurant owners can enclose patios and on what kinds of heat sources they can use. He would like to see that red tape snipped to make patios more inviting and financially viable.

McCreath said costs may force him to shelve plans to winterize a temporary patio outside his Steamworks pub in Gastown. Also, Steamworks is so large, at a pre-pandemic capacity of 750 seats, that many rooms are closed, and even with half that capacity open to make room for socially distanced patrons, he said there will be more than enough room inside the pub.

“The viability of a patio really depends on the property – how big it is, and what it is doing in sales,” he said. “If I’m operating a small place on Cambie Street that has 80 seats, and I’ve got this 30-seat patio outside, then that is life or death for me.”

British Columbia Restaurant and Food Services Association CEO Ian Tostenson met with city staff in mid-August to float the idea of allowing temporary patios to operate until at least next spring.

“The city seemed to really be enthusiastic about this,” he said.

“We are just trying to narrow it down to what the solution looks like.”

The city’s manager of street activities, Scott Edwards, did not respond to BIV’s request for an interview, but the city sent a statement saying, “City staff are exploring options to build upon the success of the TEPP.

“The city remains committed to supporting business during recovery, and staff are continuing to connect with local business and the restaurant industry on how their existing temporary patios are being implemented and [to get] input.” •

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Halifax’s Scotiabank Centre reopens for Mooseheads’ season opener

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The home of the Halifax Mooseheads will reopen next month to host the team’s season home opener, although the experience will be different as a result of COVID-19.

The Scotiabank Centre will reopen on Oct. 3, after its reopening framework was reviewed by Nova Scotia’s public health and occupational health and safety departments, the company operating the centre and the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) team announced on Tuesday.

“We’re thrilled to be reopening and welcoming our fans back to Scotiabank Centre,” said Carrie Cussons, the president and CEO of Scotiabank Centre.

The centre will be following all standard health and safety guidelines related to the wearing of non-medical masks, hand hygiene, physical distancing and contact tracing, the company said.

But there will be additional protections put in place as well in order to limit any possible spread of the novel coronavirus.

Scotiabank Centre will be divided into separate zones of up to 200 people with set washrooms, concessions and entrance/exit points for each zone.

The organization also announced that tickets will be sold in groups of up to 10 within the same bubble, respecting the province’s guidelines on gatherings.

Fans and attendees will be required to wear a non-medical mask at all times, except when they are consuming food or beverages, the Scotiabank Centre said.

Tickets will also be mobile-only in order to minimize close contact between individuals.

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Candidate slate set for Halifax election as mayoral race grows to three candidates

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The slate of candidates for the Halifax Regional Municipality’s upcoming election has been finalized and it’s now officially a three-horse race for the municipality’s mayoral seat.

Incumbent mayor Mike Savage will face off against Coun. Matt Whitman, the current representative for the Hammonds Plains–St. Margarets, and political newcomer Max Taylor.

Whitman and Savage have previously announced their plans to run but Taylor’s inclusion in the race was a last minute surprise.

On his campaign’s Facebook page, the 22-year-old says his platform is “simple”

“Get out and vote. I don’t care who you vote for, I care that you vote,” he writes.

One of the more notable aspects of Taylor’s presence in the race is his status on social media platform Tik Tok.

He’s built a following of more than 600,000 people on the platform and his videos have generated more than 20.6 million likes.

What that will do for his candidacy is up in the air, but he’s sure to bring a youthful energy to the process.

 

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Here’s what Toronto’s new 57-storey skyscraper will look like

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The corner of Bay and Harbour may be getting a new 57-storey office tower perched atop the heritage Toronto Harbour Commission Building.

Updated plans for The Hub — a skyscraper from multinational corporation Oxford Properties — have been submitted, and if approved, will see a building designed by London-based firm Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners to 30 Bay Street.

The project near Toronto’s waterfront which was initially proposed in 2018 will add around 1.4 million square feet of office space to the neighbourhood. The building’s west side will also be directly connected to The PATH network.

The Hub will also sit overtop (but only lightly touching) its next door neighbour: the six-storey Toronto Harbour Commission Building, which was built in 1917.

Nicknamed “The T”, the historic building was sold to Oxford in 2017 for $96 million. Fun fact: The T is also reportedly haunted by the ghost of a janitor.

It’s not entirely clear how the interior of the old Commission Building will play into The Hub’s commercial workspace, but the design of the 57-storey building shows the strategic use of four columns to allow for distance between the main building and The T.

The two buildings will be connected by a “finely detailed glazed atrium.”

Windows will stretch from floor to ceiling in the four-storey lobby, which will be home to restaurants, retail spaces, meeting and event spaces, and maybe a fitness facility.

Floors five to eight of the podium will see larger office floors.

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