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Burnaby pub pivots with insta-patio as restaurants scramble to survive restrictions

Burnaby has loosened up its rules to allow patio spaces

The Burnaby restaurants that are in the best shape right now considering the restrictions on indoor dining due to COVID-19 are those that have existing patios.

The sunny weather this week and weekend means places like the Hart House – which has a dazzling outdoor patio that can spread diners far apart – can still do some business.

But most Burnaby restaurants don’t have that immediate option so some are improvising.

Like the Admiral Pub on Hastings in Burnaby Heights. As the photo shows, it’s done a quick pivot by having tables and chairs put out so they hug the building and don’t impede the sidewalk. The Admiral just reopened and was greeted by the Dr. Bonnie Henry’s bar and so it’s doing what it has to do.

One Burnaby Heights restaurant owner told me he is applying to get approval from the city to set up a patio in his parking lot. Not an ideal location, but these are desperate times.

Burnaby businesses will be able to take advantage of spring and summer weather by adding outdoor seating or expanding into adjacent outdoor spaces as part of the City of Burnaby’s Active Sidewalks, Open Businesses program, which has been extended to Oct. 31, 2021.

The program was created in 2020 to assist local businesses with reopening safely during the COVID-19 pandemic. The extra outdoor space provides more room for patrons to maintain physical distancing, and allows restaurants to add patio seating while remaining in compliance with the current provincial health orders.

“Burnaby businesses have gone above and beyond to help keep our community safe during the COVID-19 pandemic, and it is important that we continue to support them during this time,” said Mayor Mike Hurley, in a news release. “The temporary outdoor retail spaces and patios are a great way to keep customers safe, with the added benefit of making our streets even more vibrant and lively.”

Businesses can apply to extend onto private property, such as on-site parking, or apply to use adjacent city-owned space. The city has created an expedited system to process applications as quickly as possible. Learn more at

Businesses may apply to use adjacent city space or extend into their own private property for:

* restaurant seating; 

* merchant displays (e.g. clothing racks, outdoor tables, etc.); 

* a pick-up/drop-off kiosk or customer queuing; or

* other uses (applications are reviewed on a case-by-case basis).