Street dining in Tauranga will soon cost businesses across the city instead of just some in the centre of town.
Businesses on The Strand and Wharf Street pay between $100-$160 per square metre each year to use the street. This has been reduced by 80 percent because of the disruption caused by construction and redevelopment of the CBD.
This 20 percent fee of $30 to $32 per square metre will be applied to all businesses using the footpath for street dining from July 2024.
The decision was made at a Tauranga City Council strategy finance and risk committee meeting on Monday.
Commissioner Stephen Selwood said street dining constrained footpath use but added "fantastic vibrancy".
"There's a lot of value that is brought by having ground dining.
"Businesses who are raising a commercial return out of using a facility should pay for it."
He said the city centre paying but Mount Maunganui being free was "a bit skew-whiff".
The 20 percent fee should be introduced to the Mount and then all areas be phased up to 100 percent fees from 2025, Selwood said.
"That would mean the main areas of the city are paying the same amount, which I think is fair and equitable."
Current revenue from the business paying the discounted fees was around 18,000 a year or $700 per business.
Business representatives expressed their concerns about the policy during hearings in November.
Downtown Tauranga chair Ashleigh Gee said they should be focusing on how to make it easier for businesses, not adding extra charges.
"Considering the overall goal of increasing arts, culture and vibrancy for our region, [this] needs to be considered between developing further regulations on the hospitality industry.
"This industry is one of the main drawcards for our tourists."
Mount Business Association representative Claudia West said if the charges were high business would need to reconsider what they offered or pass the charge on to customers.
"If higher charges come in for businesses, this would have a massive impact on the look and feel of our main street."
The Mount shopping area was also seasonal and weather dependent but businesses would have to pay to use the footpath year round, said West.
Council staff recommended the Street Use Policy also charged businesses for using balcony space for dining but this was opposed by the committee.
Commissioner Shadrach Rolleston said there were two or three businesses around the city that used balcony space so it wasn't a "big issue".
Selwood said he did not want to proceed with it because it would make almost no contribution to ratepayers.
The committee opted to make balcony dining free for businesses throughout Tauranga.
They also chose to promote smoke and vape-free street dining as opposed to requiring new businesses be smoke-free from 1 March 2024 like the staff recommended.
Commission chair Anne Tolley said: "I'm an ex-smoker and I can't stand it when I'm eating to have someone blowing smoke across the front of me and they tend to be out on the street. So I understand people wanting, not wanting to have that."
She questioned if they wanted to prohibit it.
Committee member Rohario Murray said she was all for smoke-free dining facilities but her preference was for restaurants to display if they were smoke-free.
"Then patrons have the opportunity to decide whether they would like to eat there based on the fact that it is smoke-free."
The policy also looked at whether artificial grass should be used on berms. The committee decided to decline applications for new artificial grass on berms.
Tolley said this was so it would not affect those who already had it.
"There may well be some elderly people for whom it's just not practical to go and put grass down."
The street dining charges will come into effect from July 2024 and the committee made provision for the charges to be reduced or increased when required.
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