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City wants more downtown patios

Licensing changes expected to encourage more food and beverage establishments to set up patios
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Popular alleyway patio draws in customers at Outspoken Brewery, 350 Queen St. E. Sandi Wheeler/Bulletin

City Council will be asked tonight to approve a new licensing arrangement for downtown sidewalk patios built on city-owned sidewalks.

"While the process is working well, staff at this time is recommending that patio agreements be approved for a three-year period, while maintaining the fee at $250," says Stephen Turco, senior city planner.

Until now, sidewalk patio agreements have been valid from May 15 to Oct. 1 in a given year, and must be renewed annually.

"Having the agreements span three years, rather than one, will result in a nominal loss of application fees," Turco says in a report to Mayor Provenzano and councillors.

"However, staff is of the opinion that this will be offset by more food and beverage establishments setting up patios," he said.

Under the resolution going to city council tonight, existing patio agreements will be extended for two more years.

"Patio layouts typically do not change from year to year and therefore there is no need for additional reviews," Turco said.

"In addition, extending patio agreements to three years will also benefit those food and beverage establishments that want to set up patios later in the summer season (i.e. some establishments are delayed in setting up patios due to other commitments, weather delays, etc.). While staff is recommending that agreements be for a three-year period, patios will still be required to be taken down as of Oct. 1 of each year."

"As well, it should be noted that some patios require a building permit to set up. These patios would still be required to obtain a building permit yearly."

Patios that use in-street parking spots, either for the patio itself or a walkway around a patio, require an additional fee of $225 per stall, which Turco is recommending should still be paid annually.

Tonight's city council meeting will be livestreamed on SooToday starting at 4:30 p.m.

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David Helwig

About the Author: David Helwig

David Helwig's journalism career spans seven decades beginning in the 1960s. His work has been recognized with national and international awards.
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