“Colac Otway Shire is encouraging people to visit our region and enjoy the best of our local businesses to support their post- COVID recovery,” Development & Community Services General Manager Ian Seuren said.
“Developing temporary outdoor dining opportunities for as many businesses as possible, particularly in Apollo Bay, were essential to accommodating the tourism we need to help our communities get back on track.
“Council’s Economic Development, Planning and Local Laws Community Safety teams have worked with cafes and restaurants across the shire to help facilitate increasing outdoor dining space as quickly as possible.
“We have provided free, temporary street trading permits and discounted permanent planning permits to help increase seating capacity of businesses. Council officers have also provided advice and support to businesses to increase outdoor dining capacity where no permit is required.
“In Apollo Bay, creating adequate outdoor dining has been a challenge due to the narrow width of the footpaths which has prevented extra seating without restricting pedestrian access to shops.
“Council has worked in partnership with local businesses to develop designs for ‘parklets’ which will be installed in two sections along the Great Ocean Road.
“Regional Roads Victoria has now provided approval, and we have a local contractor who will start work on the installation next week so they are complete in time for Christmas.
“Council encouraged businesses to access $5000 outdoor dining grants which were available through the State Government to purchase seating and tables, which many secured.
‘There will be some parking bays removed temporarily to make way for outdoor dining space and Council will install additional signage to direct traffic to the Pascoe Street carpark which often has spaces available.
We are also planning to convert four spaces to 15-minute short-term parking bays so locals and visitors can stop off quickly and grab, bread, milk and a newspaper, and minimise any inconvenience.
“The speed limit will be reduced to 40 kilometres to slow the traffic through the centre of Apollo Bay and, with minimal disruption during construction, the parklets should be open for dining by Christmas.
“Colac Otway Shire wishes to thank local traders for their support and willingness to diversify their businesses to create a COVID-safe environment,” Mr Seuren said.
“We hope the alfresco dining expansion will enhance the great atmosphere in Apollo Bay, restaurants will stay open longer and then retailers will benefit by having more visitors in town, staying longer and shopping in town.