Council adopts seasonal outdoor patio bylaw

Businesses can now apply to set up bistro tables on sidewalks or build a patio structure on city parking lots.

Cranbrook has officially adopted a seasonal outdoor patio bylaw for local downtown restauranteurs and businesses.

Now, businesses can set up an outdoor patio as laid out in the bylaw, but with the summer half over, it remains to be seen how quickly businesses roll them out.

It’s an initiative that’s been underway for the last year, with city planners crafting a bylaw that protects the city’s interests, while allowing businesses to draw in customers by taking advantage of summer weather.

“We’re glad to see it finally done,” said Cranbrook Mayor Lee Pratt. “But we’re not happy with how long it took. That’s part of bureaucracy and the rules and regulations you have to abide by, but hopefully we’ll see some interest this year.

“I know it’s getting late in the season but hopefully we’ll see some interest. If not this year, for sure we’ll be trying to make sure they get on board early [next year] with it and try to get something going.”

Affordability, consistency, options and limiting liability to the city were the four guiding principles that came with drafting the bylaw. There have been no changes since the third reading and it’s adoption by council on Monday night.

Rob Veg, the senior planner with the City of Cranbrook, says he looked at what other communities have done with seasonal patios to draft the bylaw.

“It involves a lot of research, looking at what people in other places do and then taking that information and try to craft a bylaw to suit Cranbrook,” said Veg.

Crafting such a bylaw means striking a balance between protecting the city and encouraging businesses to set up outdoor patios,” Veg added.

“First and foremost, as a planner, we have to look after the city to make sure our interests are covered, particularly with respect to the issues of liability,” Veg said. “But then we also wanted to take into account things like affordability so it would get that uptake. Certainly some of the things that businesses would like to see maybe aren’t necessarily something that could be put into a bylaw.

“We have to be careful that we try to bridge that gap and have something amiable to both groups, and I think we’ve done that.”

The bylaw, including the rules and regulations of setting up an outdoor patio, are available by visiting city hall.

Outdoor bistro-style tables and chairs are now officially permitted, while the bylaw also allows for a constructed patio structure that can utilize angle or parallel parking spaces for an annual fee.

The East Kootenay Community Credit Union is jumping on board with its support and is offering low interest loans of up to $6,500 to downtown Cranbrook businesses wishing to add a seasonal patio.

“Patios will increase the vitality of the community plus help local business owners grow their businesses,” read an EKC press release.