Dufferin County businesses may be getting a small break as the province moves into Phase 2 of the reopening plan next week.
On June 24, 2021, Dufferin County’s Community Development and Tourism Committee received a staff report regarding providing relief to local businesses from temporary tent permit fees. More Dufferin County businesses, including many restaurants, are utilizing temporary tents during the pandemic to maintain service levels during COVID-19-related restrictions. The costs associated with the relief program will come from Safe Restart funding, administered by the Ontario Government, earmarked for Economic Development recovery.
Greg McNaughton, Dufferin County’s chief building official, told the committee how one business had a tent up in 2020 and now 2021, which had gone unnoticed until recently.
“The question from that business owner was, ‘Why are you coming to me now as things are starting to open up?'”, explained McNaughton, who shared how they considered the matter internally. “I can’t take credit for the idea, but there was discussion about COVID Relief Funding being used to offset the costs for a tent permit.”
The document outlines how Dufferin County businesses have had to face a variety of restrictions throughout the pandemic. This includes limiting or eliminating public access to physical storefronts. As seen last summer, several Dufferin County businesses put up temporary tents to mitigate the constraints and continue to serve their customers.
Dufferin County councillors asked whether the relief program applied to events and weddings or just to businesses looking to expand their storefront space. McNaughton said that the fee waivers were for businesses only.
“It started off with rush patios for restaurants,” described McNaughton. “Then we talked about it and thought that there could be other businesses that are utilizing tents for some reason. So, we said, ‘well, why not include them as well?'”
A temporary tent permit is required if the tent exceeds 60 square meters and is located less than three meters away from buildings. The permit itself costs $160. For every Dufferin municipality except Orangeville, the county’s building department administers the temporary tent permit. That said, Orangeville businesses are still eligible for relief. What is not included in the support program is the fee paid out to each Dufferin municipality that offsets the costs of reviewing and providing approval.
“So, what if a person says, ‘I’m not going to pay it,’ what do you do now?” asked Dufferin County councillor and Amaranth’s Mayor Bob Currie.
Dufferin County’s chief building official explained how those that require but do not obtain permits for their tents would be violating Ontario’s Building Code.
“What we’re supposed to do, and we’re obligated to do, is try and gain compliance verbally,” stated McNaughton. “If we can’t, then we would have to issue an order under the building code.”
According to the report, Dufferin County businesses that obtained a temporary tent permit before the relief program began will qualify for a refund of the building permit fees collected by the county. Like new applicants, any payments to the lower-tier municipality will not be reimbursed.
Dufferin County businesses that already have tents up, but are not in compliance with zoning and fire, building and other codes and must relocate their tents as a result, may apply for cost-recovery to ensure public safety is preserved. The Dufferin County building department’s website delineates the application process and has a checklist that one can reference before submitting a temporary tent permit application through an online portal. Orangeville businesses that require permits should reach out to the town directly. Regardless of the size of the tent, they may still be subject to municipal and approvals.
References – Tent Permit Fee Being Waived for Dufferin County Businesses
- June 24, 2021, Community Development and Tourism Committee Meeting – Dufferin County YouTube Channel
- June 24, 2021, Community Development and Tourism Committee Agenda – Dufferin County
- Ontario to move into next phase of COVID-19 reopening 2 days early, sources say – CBC News
- Application Checklist: Temporary Tents – Dufferin County
- Building Services – Dufferin County
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