by Andrew Morrison | If you moseyed down Carrall St. over the weekend – just going about your gentrifying business – you may have noticed that a colourful patio next to Rainier Provisions was under construction. It’s a “Paris patio”, and by that I mean it’s physically disconnected from the business and semi-permanent (ie. the frame isn’t packed up each night and stowed indoors). It’s the sort of patio that cities get when they grow up. It’s very likely that a lot of Vancouverites have never seen one before. Don’t be alarmed.
Why not call it a “Vancouver patio”? Look at the photos above. See that seven or so feet of sidewalk between the patio and the restaurant? That – according to the asshats who wrote BC’s liquor licensing rules in 782 AD – is where the dragons live. Just imagine the chaos that would ensue if a tray of beer were to cross that no man’s land! It’s a horror to envision the carnage, the sin, the shame. We’re talking fire and brimstone, folks, all the worst kinds of Old Testament stuff…
You get the idea. But it turns out that when it came time for Rainier to assemble its patio plans, co-owner Sean Heather put in his application to the dragon believers with two designs, one that incorporated the “Paris patio” and one that did not. The City initially said they weren’t interested in the former (knowing full well that BC Liquor wouldn’t go for it), but then something weird happened. Out of the blue, like a bolt from the thunderbelt of Zeus, the City called back, seemingly motivated to see it happen and saying that there were – WTF – like-minded people over at the old Ministry of Dragons. And you know what? There actually were.
The Paris patio – which is beautiful (its colours are anchored by my favourite shade of green) and now pretty much complete – is only an experiment, so don’t expect our streets to resemble that of Le Marais or Trastevere any time soon. It’s being treated as an island of sorts, an island for potential grown-ups. From what we’ve learned, it must have a
babysitter staff member present at all times (because of the dragons) so a runner will be delivering all food and drink. In other words, the rules are still as silly as you would imagine them to be. But it’s one small step in the right direction, and a giant leap towards no longer believing in the existence of dragons. The pilot project has a lifespan of 12 months, after which we’ll either see the powers relax their unofficial, Puritanical, stifling, no-fun sphincters or keep them tight and titular (because dragons).
In the words of Sean Heather, “We better not fuck it up, because if it all works out it will be a good thing for everyone.” Too right.