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The great outdoors: Patio Patter

Cranbrook City Council debates draft seasonal patio bylaw

Trevor Crawley

Cranbrook is forging ahead with a a proposal for outdoor summer patios in the downtown core as city staff presented a draft bylaw to council on Monday evening.

Limiting liability to the city, affordability and consistency were key objectives laid out by city planners in the draft bylaw, which passed first reading at the council table.

"The bylaw includes specific sections for definitions, application requirements, fees, security, insurance and indemnification, general requirements for patios and additional criteria for constructed on-street patios, the term and renewal, and offence and cancellation provisions," read a staff report.

The proposed bylaw outlines options for seasonal patios on city sidewalks or on-street parking spaces, as businesses would be allowed one parallel parking space at $300 or three angle parking spaces at $900 a season.

From a fee standpoint, it will cost $50 for an application and $25 for a renewal. The city is charging a dollar per square metre of space on a sidewalk where seasonal patio infrastructure isn’t removed at the end of the day.

There must be 1.5 metres of sidewalk space to allow for pedestrian traffic and must be fenced off, barring a few exceptions for smaller bistro tables lining up against the outside walls of a business on the sidewalk.

“What we did in the bylaw was create an exemption to allow for smaller patios, without naming some of the coffeeshops and small eateries where there’s only a couple of tables on the sidewalk, so we didn’t want to make them have to put a guardrail around it because there’s not enough room necessarily on the sidewalk,” said Rob Veg, a city planner, who fielded questions from mayor and council during the discussion. “But the exemption is they don’t have to do a guard rail if it’s adjacent to the building.”

There are options to have a constructed seasonal patio that would require building permits, must be free standing, wheelchair-accessible and have a one-metre high guard rail.

The sale of liquor on outdoor patios that isn’t enclosed by guard rails is prohibited as restricted by the Liquor Control Branch. Outdoor cooking, such as barbecuing on an outdoor patio, is also prohibited under the bylaw.

Under questioning from councillors, Veg noted that it would up to the city’s legal counsel to determine if the bylaw could be varied to allow for one-off events such as barbecuing on an outdoor patio during Sam Steele Days.

The bylaw also prohibits advertising on patio structures, as Veg noted that planners were hoping to avoid gaudy beer banners or flags from popping up.

From here, the bylaw will go to a public hearing at the Manual Training Centre on May 11 from 6-8 p.m. The Downtown Business Association will also be counted on to provide feedback on the language.

“You guys in the planning department did an awesome job piecing this together from the other municipalities and I’m excited about it,” said Councillor Isaac Hockley. “I can’t wait for it to build some culture in our downtown core, so I’m excited about it.”