Richmond permanent patio program development

Like many cities, the City of Richmond acted quickly to allow temporary outdoor patios when the pandemic hit. Happy Cities helped turn that temporary program into a permanent one.

Photo: Louis Hansel / Unsplash.

Like many cities, the City of Richmond acted quickly to allow temporary outdoor patios when the pandemic hit, helping local business to stay afloat and continue safe operations throughout 2020. The City’s Expedited Temporary Outdoor Patio Program was an innovative pandemic response measure, which aimed to support local businesses by allowing them to safely and quickly expand their seating areas to accommodate COVID-19-related public health orders. 

Building on the success of the temporary program, Richmond sought help from Happy Cities to develop a new patio program as a long-term solution. In April 2022, Council voted to approve the City’s new permanent Patio Program, which will allow food and beverage businesses to install patios in place of parking spots, along sidewalks, and on private property — both seasonally and year-round. 

Happy Cities supported community engagement; helped develop program guidelines to meet existing bylaws, regulations, and technical requirements; and created a user-friendly applicant guide for the Patio Program. The Applicant Guide is now available at

Our process

The goals of the Patio Program are to:

  • Support local businesses by enabling expanded outdoor seating capacity through a clear and simple patio application process.
  • Ensure that patios are safe, accessible and do not cause undue disturbance to communities, neighbours or passersby.
  • Support the creation of vibrant streetscapes, build a sense of community, and create unique street experiences in Richmond. 

Developing the patio program involved input and review from multiple City departments, including Economic Development, Transportation, Planning, Engineering & Public Works, Building Approvals, Law, as well as Richmond Fire Rescue. Our team facilitated an internal visioning and feedback workshop, bringing together key staff from each department. Feedback from a public consultation process, including a public survey and outreach to businesses, was also reviewed and incorporated. 

Following the completion of the Guidelines, our team developed a user-friendly Applicant Guide to translate the Guidelines’ complex and overlapping requirements into an accessible document for public use. 

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