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Does your fav bar patio really need $5 million in liability insurance?

Ward 2 councillors fight to reduce red tape for pandemic patios
08-08-2020 patio
Little Fish Takeout & Patio, at East Street Pizza Co., located in the former home of Mrs. B's Pizza. Photo supplied

Two councillors who represent downtown on City Council will try next week to reduce red tape for local establishments using outdoor patios to provide extra physically distanced seating during the COVID-19 emergency.

Ward 2 Couns. Luke Dufour and Lisa Vezeau-Allen will ask that the minimum $5-million liability insurance required by the city for patios where alcohol is served be reduced to $2 million.

The city's insurance requirements became an issue in the 2018 municipal election, when mayoral candidate Rory Ring disclosed that Sammy Jansen, a teenager who had obtained a grant from Ontario’s Summer Company program to sell hot dogs on Queen Street, was forced to get a very costly liability insurance policy.

"A 16-year-old opens up a hot dog cart. City licensing made him get an insurance policy for $5 million," RIng told a campaign event.

"I don't know the last time I hit anybody over the head with a hot dog, but it didn't kill him. We need to be smart about the way we do business," Ring said.

In June, the city loosened its patio guidelines, waiving all fees for patio approvals for the rest of the 2020 and allowing seasonal patios to occupy up to 25 per cent of a business's parking spaces.

The following is the full resolution placed on the agenda on Monday's City Council meeting.

The meeting will be livestreamed on SooToday starting at 4:30 p.m.

In other business news, councillors are expected to approve a separate proposal allowing Don McConnell, the city's planning director, discretion to approve minor variances to the patio rules to recognize individual circumstances.

They'll also be asked to waive interest and penalties on municipal accomodation tax remittances until the end of 2020. 

Insurance requirements for patios

Mover: Councillor L. Dufour
Seconder: Councillor L. Vezeau-Allen

Whereas during the current COVID-19 environment many eating establishments have developed outdoor patios to serve customers and maintain business operations; and

Whereas patios offer an alternative for patrons; and

Whereas currently in Sault Ste. Marie applicants must maintain minimum liability insurance of $2,000,000, which increases to $5,000,000 where alcohol is involved; and

Whereas the increase in insurance liability can raise premiums for business owners on average from $1,600 to $2,000; and

Whereas many other municipalities across Ontario only require $2,000,000 in liability insurance where alcohol is served (City of Sudbury, City of Toronto, City of Waterloo, City of Barrie); and

Whereas to promote and support local businesses to grow and thrive;

Now therefore be it resolved that the legal department be requested to review and report back regarding insurance requirements for all patio establishments including a bylaw amendment fixing liability insurance at $2,000,000.