Business Success Stories:
Making more space for pedestrians, bicyclists, vendors, and patios
Patio Innovation Program
Excerpts from recent city staff report
Over the course of 2020, a successful Patio Innovation Program was developed which included a series of measures to encourage new restaurant patios and café seating, as well as retail vending in the right of way, by reducing or waiving fees and accelerating approvals. The initiatives in 2020 were designed to be as nimble as possible, aligning to the fluctuating restrictions as a result of COVID-19. With City Council’s support and approval, the following are the several initiatives under the umbrella of the Patio Innovation Program which were implemented in 2020:
- Waiving the monthly rate for right of way (ROW) patios and café seating permits, (which has been continued for 2021 through Council’s approval of the 2021 budget);
- Eliminating the cap on the quantity of café seating tables permitted per business;
- Streamlining the circulation process for new ROW patio permit applications;
- Waiving the monthly permit fees for the ROW Winter Patio program (beginning November 15, 2020);
- Developing a new retail vending program to allow retailers to vend on their business frontages
- Partnering with Building Code Services to develop a streamlined system to review inquiries and building permit applications for tents and awnings related to patios;
- Partnering with Traffic Services to undertake the closure of several city streets as pilot projects to facilitate patio expansions;
- Amending the Zoning By-law temporarily for patios on private property to waive the 30-metre setback requirement from residential zones along with other provisions and introduce a registration and property owner notification system. (which has been extended by Council until January 1, 2022)
As noted above, the waiving of monthly fees for 2021 for ROW patio permits and the implementation of a Temporary Zoning By-law amendment for patios on private property was completed in 2020. On November 25, Council extended the temporary zoning to January 1, 2022.
Staff are recommending that the remainder of the above noted initiatives be extended for the 2021 ROW patio season as set out below. There are no anticipated financial implications associated with these recommendations, save and except the potential for some minor revenue from the continuation of the retail vending program, which was introduced for the first time in 2020.
One of the successful pilots that were undertaken in 2020 was the variety of road closures to support the expansion of outdoor dining. Several street closures were undertaken as pilot projects to facilitate patio expansions:
- Somerset Street West from Bank to O’Connor; Fridays to Sundays
- Flora Street; Fridays to Sundays
- Frank Street at Bank Street for approximately 15 metres
- Clarence Street from Dalhousie Street to William Street
- ByWard Market Square from York Street to Clarence Street
- York Street from ByWard Market Square to Sussex Drive
In addition, William Street from George Street to York Street was closed for the season to facilitate physical distancing as part of a continuing public realm pilot project from 2019. Bank Street from Queen Street to Catherine Street was closed every Saturday for the month of July to facilitate physical distancing. This pilot, led by the Bank Street Business Improvement Area (BIA), proved to be so successful that the BIA extended the Saturday closures until the end of September.
In anticipation of the summer ahead the Bank Street BIA has put out a survey that floats the idea of extending the closures for two or more days for summer 2021.
Council provided staff the delegated authority for road closures until April 1, 2021 and staff are recommending that the delegated authority to approve road closure requests be extended for the remainder of 2021.