OUTDOOR dining will remain an option for residents for at least a year, after the City of Greater Bendigo opted to extend its expanded trial.
The city has helped 51 businesses expand their outdoor dining since September, when government changed planning laws to help businesses recovery from the COVID-19 lockdowns.
Councillors voted on Monday to extend a trial of outdoor dining until April 20, 2022, throughout the winter months.
The trial included the option for businesses to expand along footpaths, into car parks and along one side of Bull Street. It had been due to end on June 30, 2021.
Mayor Jennifer Alden said the tail of the pandemic was long and continuing, and expanded outdoor dining would help the local economy recover.
Cr Alden said the continued trial will give more time to further ascertain how expanded outdoor dining could work long term.
She said community consultations had broadly supported the initiative.
But Cr Alden said council understood some elements of expanded outdoor dining would need to be improved, naming the appearance of traffic management bollards, and the use of car parks and road closures.
Putting the motion to council, Councillor Andrea Metcalf said there were a number of questions about outdoor dining, such as whether it should be all nights of the week, or just some.
Cr Metcalf said she didn't know whether residents would support outdoor dining in winter.
Councillor Margaret O'Rourke said individual businesses had raised concerns about outdoor dining, but council needed more data.
Individual businesses will have to apply for a local laws permit if they wish to trade under the current outdoor dining conditions after June 30, 2021.
The trial has been extended until April 30, 2022.
The city will receive a further report in late 2021 about long term-arrangements for outdoor dining, including costs and further evaluation.
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