Sitting outside having a beer or a meal in Cranbrook’s downtown is moving closer to becoming a reality.
The city got a chance to hear some feedback about their proposed seasonal patio bylaw on Wednesday evening with an open house at the Manual Training School.
The draft bylaw, presented to city council in April, passed first reading and is currently in a tweaking stage as staff respond to questions and concerns from the public and downtown business community.
Rob Veg, the senior planner for the City of Cranbrook, said he’s heard mostly supportive feedback about the bylaw.
“Any kind of concerns that have been raised to date, there have been a small number that have submitted concerns for the potential for loss of parking on the streets downtown.” said Veg.
Cobbled together after looking at what other municipalities across B.C. have done in regards to outdoor seasonal patios, there are four main points that Veg and city staff are taking into consideration—limiting liability to the city, affordability, consistency and differing patio options.
“From my perspective, when we were doing the research we didn’t reinvent the wheel writing the bylaw here,” Veg said. “We borrowed from everyone else who already had experience in this.”
The goal was to learn from the experiences of other municipalities in a made-for-Cranbrook bylaw that would address issues such as design regulations, advertising and potential safety concerns.
“All the regulations were reviewed and borrowed and tailored to suit the needs that we’re hoping to address here in our municipality,” said Veg, “because every municipality has different standards because their streets are different, so we had to look at it from the point of view of will these regulations work in downtown Cranbrook.”
Even though council has had the chance to look over the bylaw at a council meeting, Veg is already anticipating a few changes, even if they are minor.
“One of the things that was raised was we have the seasonal patio timeframe from May 1 to Oct 31 and some people said that might be a bit late for our window here in the East Kootenay,” said Veg. “Maybe we’ll look at having that window just for on-street patios as opposed to the sidewalks.
We’ve got to take into consideration our public works crews and street cleaning and that kind of stuff.
But for the smaller shops that may want to put out tables in March if we get a balmy day, I can see some value in that option for example.”
Other tweaks could include lowering the $5 million liability insurance and council will also have the opportunity to come back to city staff when the bylaw goes back onto the regular meeting agenda for a second reading.
The bylaw, as currently written, allows for either on-street patios—as businesses are allowed one parallel parking space or three angle parking spaces—for a monthly $300 rental fee or an exemption for small bistro tables on sidewalks, provided there is 1.5 metres clear for pedestrian traffic.
On-street patios require building permits, be flush with sidewalk curbs and have a one-metre tall railing.
The Cranbrook Chamber of Commerce voiced it’s support for the bylaw on Wednesday evening in the form of a letter written by David D. Hull, the executive director.
“In discussion, the board was of the opinion that seasonal patios would greatly enhance efforts to populate and vitalize the retail sections of our community,” Hull wrote.
“The board was also hopeful that the bylaw would be structured as such to actually encourage and promote the installation of temporary patios, versus the contrast of a burdensome and heavy-handed system that was discouraging and more than likely not to be utilized.”