Council to consider if patios can stay in place during winter months.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

November 2nd, 2020



A Special meeting of City Council will take place this afternoon to decide if the temporary use of public property for restaurant patios should be extended to October 31st, 2021

The Covid19 pandemic has been disastrous for the hospitality and retail sectors – more so for the restaurants in the city.

Would allowing them to uses what is public space through the winter month’s help bring customers out?

Council will be considering a Staff Direction to:

Authorize Executive Director of Community Planning, Regulation and Mobility, working in consultation with Director of Transportation, to approve extension of temporary restaurant patios and/or temporary retail space permissions on public property in connection with COVID-19 recovery to October 31,2021, subject to such criteria and conditions staff deem appropriate.

Currently, 40 patios have been approved on private property and 13 patios on City property in the Downtown.

Dickens with tent

This Elizabeth Street destination created space at the front of the restaurant. Clearing snow from the street will be a challenge.

Many restaurant owners have purchased or rented tents to provide covered dining experiences for their customers. Staff will provide a verbal update to Council on whether the 13 temporary patios on City owned lands intend to continue use of their patio and/or tent during the winter season. Halton Region is currently in Stage 3 of the Provincial COVID-19 Recovery Plan.

If the Province requires Halton Region to revert to Stage 2 business the result could have restaurants being restricted to only serving patrons outdoors until further notice from the Province.

In light of this risk, and with the winter months approaching, many restaurants have indicated intentions to operate their temporary outdoor patios throughout the winter months (November to April, inclusive).

Determining just what the risks are will be the focus of the debate. Snow clearing is another part of issue council has to face.

This citizen isn't smiling. Was she one of the hundreds that were basically locked in theoir homes during the five days of heavy winter weather because streets were not cleared?

The city is required to keep the streets clear of ice and snow.

Municipalities are required to maintain sidewalks and roads within their jurisdiction in a reasonable state of repair. There is a legislated Minimum Maintenance Standards that has to be met in regards to winter maintenance of sidewalks and roadways that includes monitoring and inspecting snow and ice accumulation on all sidewalks and roadways and deploying resources to ensure they are cleared within specified time limits.

The current patio configurations that were approved and put in place do not allow for mechanical snow clearing. It is strongly recommended that the current roadway set ups that block parking or the roadway be removed after Nov 15th. There is insufficient room for snow storage (the windrow of snow that comes off of the plow blade) and significant risk of damage to fencing and other structures in place.

Suggested time frame for removals is Nov 16thto 19th.Staff have also recommended that all sidewalks be open for mechanical snow clearing to meet the city’s obligations and reduce liability.

This is consistent with the both Oakville and Hamilton’s policy framework. Currently there are tents that have been erected on the edge of the sidewalk. This is problematic as there needs to be room for snow storage. It is recommended that 1 m or 3 ft of clearance be established

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4 comments to Council to consider if patios can stay in place during winter months.

  • Penny Hersh

    Executive Director, Community Planning, Heather MacDonald

    “Allowing businesses to winterize their patios and outdoor spaces brings a new dynamic to keeping everyone safe. City staff is committed to working with interested businesses on a case-by-case basis to consider how their outdoor patios and tent structures can operate through the winter and beyond while maintaining public safety and achieving legislative compliance. I encourage businesses to contact us so that we can provide them with the information they will need before making investment decisions.”

    THE COUNCIL ALLOWING FOR THESE WINTERIZED PATIOS AND OUTDOOR SPACES IS A DISASTER WAITING TO HAPPEN. The Executive Director, Community Planning signals this as a potential issue.

  • Eve st Clair

    Slippery slope when City Council wants to ease or turn a blind eye to zoning and building code regulations to allow these tents . Also when did a temporary tent with 4 walls and a roof become “Covid free ” as opposed to a physical brick and mortar restaurant

  • Penny Hersh

    Walking along Elizabeth Street, downtown, The Martini House and the Downtown Bistro have erected elaborate tents over their outdoor patios.

    I question if these structures are safe? They will be equipped with heaters, no proper ventilation, and not sufficient physical distancing. I cannot imagine that these indoor/outdoor patios will not become a petri dish of bacteria.

    I would really like to hear from the health authorities concerning these structures. I don’t think this is something that should be voted on by council alone.

    • Eve St Clair

      Thank you Penny for the same thoughts as I was thinking . For a Mayor and Council to even think of circumventing City Zoning by laws as well as Provincial Building code to allow these tents is totally wrong and setting a dangerous precedent