BC minister of transportation and infrastructure Claire Trevena has indicated that temporary patios for businesses on the Marine Avenue corridor, which is part of Highway 101, are not permissible.
At the City of Powell River committee of the whole meeting on September 15, correspondence from Trevena was reviewed. Trevena stated that the safety and efficiency of the provincial highway system is the ministry’s priority.
“While I recognize the challenges facing many business owners and appreciate the rationale for the proposed patios, the significant engineering and liability considerations involved would prevent the patios from being established within the proposed time frame,” stated Trevena. “I recognize this is not the answer the city had hoped for.”
Trevena said several considerations would affect the safety of the travelling public and patrons of the proposed temporary patios. Key considerations include the spacing between the patios and the lanes, the need for barriers to prevent vehicles from impacting the patios, and the potential effect on emergency response and commercial and industrial traffic.
“There were also important considerations for the businesses that would likely be prohibitive, such as obtaining liability insurance for such facilities, given they are next to a highway,” stated Trevena. “The ministry would also not be able to permit the sale and consumption of alcohol on provincial highways, which may impact businesses interested in such a proposal.”
Mayor Dave Formosa said the letter was discussed on September 15 in a meeting with the minister set up through the auspices of the Union of British Columbia Municipalities, in conjunction with its annual convention next week.
“This letter was the first issue of our presentation to the minister,” said Formosa. “We advocated for the possibility of patios on Marine Avenue in light of COVID-19 and in light of the hardship that local restaurants are experiencing along Marine Avenue.
“The letter is pretty self-explanatory, and frankly, the minister was very clear in her words, as she is in her letter, that the government and the liability issues around allowing alcohol to be served on their highways was a non-starter. Whatever they do for Powell River they have to allow for the whole province.”
Formosa said as much as the ministry has sympathy for local restaurants, there is no way it could help the city with this request.
“We gave it our best shot,” said Formosa.
He said council used this meeting as an opportunity to let the minister know there are requests to lower the speed limit on Marine Avenue from Wharf Street to Willingdon Beach.
“It was right in line with her speaking to the issues of liability along these areas,” said Formosa.
He said councillors addressed the issue of the speed limit along that corridor, with the very tight Highway 101, with cars parked on both sides, and big logging trucks with huge logs going down the road.
“We really would like to see the government allow the city to have the speed limit dropped to 30 kilometres an hour,” added Formosa.
He said the minister indicated the city had been heard and there was a pilot project coming up to deal with issues just like this. Trevena suggested the city can apply to be part of that pilot project, according to the mayor.
“We will be sending a letter to the ministry and I think we’re going to put it on the next committee of the whole meeting to discuss a 30 kilometre an hour request along that corridor,” said Formosa. “We will get our request in even before the minister announces this pilot. She was very optimistic that we may be able to see this happen.”
The committee voted to note and file the letter from the minister regarding patios on Marine Avenue.