MORNINGTON Shire Council is considering its options to continue outdoor trading in the lead up to the end of the Covid-related parklet and outdoor dining program on 15 December.
But that won’t be before dozens of businesses will be forced to pull down and dismantle dining area parklets over what were car parks, due to the ending of the state government’s emergency powers.
Tony Kafrouni of Vinnies’ Boys Pizza, Mount Eliza wants the council to allow the parklet trade to continue as other councils have done.
Kafrouni said the livelihood of Mount Eliza Village had increased due to the parklet dining, with many people coming out to eat and drink coffee, with many staying to shop.
Vinnies will lose at least 20 seats when its parklet goes, while the undercover marquee outside nearby restaurant 1001 Nights will also have to go.
Kafrouni said businesses were upset the council had been slow to act, as they would have to go to the expense of dismantling and removing the parklets until the council decides if they can stay.
He has started a petition to “save Vinnies and Mount Eliza Village outdoor dining” that has already gathered 2500 signatures.
Kafrouni said the petition had helped raise awareness of the impact on businesses but said “there was still work to do”.
“We already have come so far, still have some work to do.”
Kafrouni said the council already had a blueprint of how the parklet legislation could work, given that Melbourne City, Monash and Bayside councils had already introduced fees in line with footpath dining to allow parklets to continue.
“We are coming up to summer, the busiest period, why hasn’t council been proactive and already introduced some kind of parklet permit,” he said.
Council’s community facilities and precincts manager Rebecca Levy said the parklet permits introduced in 2020 were to support local restaurants and cafes on a temporary measure as COVID-19 restrictions eased over spring and summer.
At the time, the council said additional outdoor dining space was considered crucial for the peninsula’s food businesses to re-open and remain profitable while complying with social distancing measures and space restrictions.
“Our initial parklet/outdoor dining model was designed in response to a short-term recovery program supported by the state government. With COVID restrictions ending, we are now considering next steps,” Levy said.
“There are costs and benefits to parklets and we want to ensure the needs of all traders and the community are taken into consideration. We will shortly be consulting our community and traders about the future of parklets. The peninsula is a diverse community and there is no easy one size fits all solution.”