Public Space Reallocation


In response to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, namely to support business recovery and to facilitate social connectivity, the City of Vancouver has launched programs that are redefining the uses of public spaces. The Temporary Expedited Patio Program and the Alcohol Consumption in Public Spaces Pilot permit the encroachment of businesses onto and alcohol consumption in public spaces (sidewalks, streets, plazas, parks). Similarly, the Vancouver Park Board voted to allow drinking in 22 public parks and the sale of beer at nearby park concessions, pending provincial legislation.


These programs, while temporary, demonstrate the potential longer term transformation of the City’s public realm. The majority of the responses to the programs have been positive for local businesses as well as for activating public spaces. Alcohol consumption in public spaces have in the past been highly regulated. The activation of public spaces has also been an on-going initiative by the City of Vancouver. These programs redefine permissible activities in public spaces and the privatization of public spaces, and opens for discussion the broader considerations of balancing public and private interests and equity.


1.  Vancouver’s Temporary Expedited Patio Program (TEPP), launched in June, allows restaurants to set up temporary patios on sidewalks and streets for additional seating as a way to encourage people to socialize outdoors and to offset interior capacity reductions from increased distancing between tables. The program, originally set to end October 31, has been expended indefinitely for the winter (Council Motion, September 16, 2020

  • May 13, 2020: at the Standing Committee of Council on Finance and City Services, Council unanimously approved the motion Flexible, Innovative and Expedited Patio Permitting
  • Temporary Expedited Patio Program launched June 1
  • 361 permits (291 patios on public space and 70 patios on privately owned space) had been issued as of August 14, 2020
  • 8 permits issued for craft brewery patios, a first in Vancouver
  • 9 pop-up plazas created in partnership with local businesses and BIAs

2.  The Alcohol Consumption in Public Spaces (pilot) was unanimously approved by City Council July 29, 2020. The pilot allows the public to drink outdoors from August 10 to Oct 12 at four locations.

  • šxʷƛ̓ənəq Xwtl’e7énk Square (Vancouver Art Gallery – North Plaza)
  • Lot 19 at 900 Cordova St.
  • Bute-Robson Plaza at 800 Bute St.
  • Temporary pop-up plaza at Cambie Street and West 17th Avenue

One of the main considerations is to provide residents the opportunity to socialize outdoors where it is easier to physical distance and to provide gathering spaces particularly for residents without outdoor spaces, such as yards and patios.

3.  Vancouver Board of Park and Recreation approved the Liquor Consumption in Parks Pilot Program which identifies 22 parks where liquor may be consumed and approved staff to apply for the appropriate licences to allow Park Board operated concessions to sell beer. Requiring provincial legislative approval, the pilot likely will not be implemented until 2021.


Prepared by:  VCPC Chronology Committee
Last Updated: December 14, 2020