Facing tremendous economic pressure during the COVID-19 pandemic, Vancouver’s businesses have sought creative solutions to help people feel safe and comfortable while they reopen.

In Vancouver, a number of local craft breweries proposed to transform parking spaces into patios over the summer of 2020. The City of Vancouver responded by permitting breweries, cafes and restaurants to temporarily transform parking spaces into patios and offer additional outdoor seating.

The program was a success. By focusing on people and beer instead of cars, this City initiative enabled many of these local businesses to generate near-normal revenue, despite having drastically less indoor seating. But, when the project was initiated, it was unclear whether the City would extend the program beyond summer.

To evaluate the value of making these changes permanent, Happy City worked with five Vancouver breweries to conduct a public life study and assess the wellbeing effects of new patios. Using both quantitative behavioural observation and subjective wellbeing intercepts, our goal was to learn and quantify how people behave and feel in these new patio spaces.

Snapshot of Results
The patio wellbeing study results indicate that the patio program supported critical elements of wellbeing, including sociability. During the pandemic, social isolation became a critical health issue for many. Following lockdown, many people chose to meet friends and loved ones outside during the summer months. Results indicate that the patios supported happy outdoor interactions: 48% of people on patios were observed laughing, compared with 32% inside, and a higher share of people were also seen speaking to each other outside. These findings were reinforced through subjective wellbeing intercepts surveys, where nearly all patrons said that the patio was a place they’d like to meet friends, while a remarkable 82% of patrons said that they’d like to meet new people on the patio, if COVID-19 wasn’t a concern.

There was also overwhelming support for the conversion of parking spaces to patios, with 91% of people agreeing that, “This patio is a better use of space than a parking spot” and only 4% disagreeing with the statement.
Since the creation of this report, the City of Vancouver has extended its Temporary Expedited Patio Program to October 31, 2021.

Download the report here: Brewery Patio Wellbeing Report