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Cranbrook working on making seasonal patios a reality

Cranbrook city council is still looking at the possibility of having outdoor seasonal patios for next spring and summer season

Trevor Crawley

Cranbrook city council is still looking at the possibility of having outdoor seasonal patios for next spring and summer season, as staff is currently looking at drafting a bylaw to allow for it.

The proposed draft bylaw will allow businesses in the downtown core to have outdoor seasonal patios on public lands.

Rob Veg, the senior community planner for the City of Cranbrook, provided a brief update to council at a meeting last Monday evening.

"We're going to target a May start, but if not, it'll be a shorter season—June through, say, October, and then the second year, we can look at the May - October window," Veg said.  "It just gives us a bit of a window because we're not sure what other priorities council might give staff and what might come through the door."

The matter was last brought before council in December 2015, upon which staff were directed to look into seasonal outdoor patio policies in other municipalities such as Kimberley, Nelson, Fernie and Kelowna.

Each community had some formal program in place to allow seasonal patios, whether it be permitted on sidewalks, on-street or both.

A council report notes that the loss of on-street parking would be a potential issue. There are currently 448 metered parking stalls in the downtown core and 329 off-street city stalls.

"Actual impacts to parking will depend on level of up-take for on-street patios should they be allowed; however, staff currently feels that the impacts from the reduction in parking will be outweighed by the positive benefits the downtown core could see through the installation of patios," read the city report. "It is anticipated that should on-street patios be permissible, individual business would be required to determine if they wanted to forgo the parking in exchange for the patio."

Any seasonal patios must also comply with Liquor Control and Licensing Branch regulations, as individual businesses would need to provide proof of approval from the branch before the city allows a seasonal patio.

The report concludes that seasonal patios would be a boon for the city and the downtown core.

"Based on the preliminary research finding, staff feels a bylaw for outdoor seasonal patios on public lands would be beneficial to the City's downtown business community and help promote revitalization in the downtown core," it read.

The issue should hopefully be revisited by March for a draft bylaw that council can look at and consult with stakeholders.

"What we're hoping to do is bring that draft bylaw in front of council in March and then do some consultation with stakeholders, likely the DBA [Downtown Business Association] and then as part of that process, we;re going to be required to do some public notification for the city bylaw," said Veg.

"So there will be some opportunity for us to finally get it out and it will be in front of council for reviewing, so there should be some buzz around it."