February 23, 2021

Reposted from The Town of Oakville

Yesterday, Halton Regional Council unanimously passed a motion calling on the Ontario government to review the British Columbia restart plan and update its framework to allow restaurant capacity to be based on percentage of square footage and the ability of a restaurant to safely serve patrons.

According to the latest survey from Restaurants Canada: Eight out of 10 restaurants are either losing money or barely scraping by. Sixty-five per cent are continuing to operate at a loss, while 19 per cent are just breaking even and 63 per cent of foodservice businesses that are losing money expect to take at least a year to return to profitability.

“Our Provincial government can help Ontario’s struggling foodservice industry by revising its current rule of only 10 customers for all restaurants, regardless of size, to one that is capacity-based,” said Mayor Rob Burton who moved the motion.

“Other jurisdictions have applied capacity-based limits on restaurants that take into account: percentage of square footage and the ability of a restaurant to safely serve its patrons, which is similar to what Ontario has already applied for grocery stores, retail and non-essential businesses.”

Under the Red – Control level of the province’s reopening framework restaurants in Ontario are unfairly restricted to 10 patrons regardless of space available and capacity to safely serve patrons. In British Columbia, restaurants were required to determine the maximum number of patrons and staff that their premises can accommodate if they are standing or sitting two metres apart and allowed to operate above 50 per cent capacity if they can abide by physical distancing requirements.

Local Halton restaurants have invested thousands of dollars in personal protective equipment and modifying spaces to provide a safer environment for employees and customers.

“Our restaurants and foodservice providers have simply been devastated,” said Councillor Dave Gittings, who seconded the motion. “While curbside pick-up and food delivery services have provided some minimal relief; we are currently at a point where doors are going to be closing, jobs lost and an important draw to our main streets and shopping areas are at risk.”

The motion also extends thanks to the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario for extending the same provisions and permissions to its licensing program for bars and restaurants for temporary extensions to outdoor patio spaces until the end of 2021.

The motion was developed in close partnership with Oakville’s Economic Task Force and local businesses. The Task Force is comprised of Oakville’s Business Improvement Areas, the Oakville Chamber of Commerce, Visit Oakville, and the Town of Oakville’s Economic Development department.