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Posted: February 3, 2016

City exploring seasonal patios for downtown

Cranbrook city council Feb. 1 authorized city administrative staff to proceed with development of a draft bylaw to facilitate outdoor seasonal patios on public land in the downtown core.

Council approved an Engineering/Development Services/Corporate Services report recommendation to proceed, based on research undertaken.

Baker Street sidewalk“Staff conducted background research on other municipalities known to permit outdoor sidewalk and/or street patios within the region as well as others outside the region. The municipalities include Kimberley, Nelson, Fernie, Penticton, Kamloops and Kelowna. Each jurisdiction has some form of formal program in place to allow seasonal patios,” the multi-department report noted.

“Based on the findings, it appears there are similarities with each program; however, they appear to be tailored to meet the needs of each individual community. Engineering and Development Services has started to make a list of potential matters that would be incorporated into a draft bylaw. Public Works did not note any concerns with the potential patios at this time,” the report stated.

One area that will likely draw attention is the potential loss of on-street parking should patios be permissible on the city’s downtown streets, the city report points out.

“Bylaw Services has confirmed there are approximately 448 metered parking stalls (including 21 disable parking stalls) in the downtown core and 329 off-street city owned parking stalls, including leased spaces. Actual impacts to parking will depend on level of uptake 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. 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,” the administrative report suggests.

Additionally, the Liquor Control and Licensing Branch have also provided comments with respect to patios, the report stated. “Any patios, whether on sidewalk or on-street would be required to comply with the regulation of the Liquor Control and Licensing Branch prior to being able to serve alcohol on a patio. Individual business would be expected to provide proof of approval from the branch prior to the city approving a seasonal patio.

“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.”

Council unanimously agreed to have city staff explore the concept fully.

“This is a great step forward for our downtown culture,” said Coun. Isaac Hockley.

Coun. Ron Popoff noted the Downtown Business Association is “keen” for the city to establish enabling bylaws to help with downtown revitalization and “this might be the catalyst to start that.”

City senior community planner Rob Veg told council “a May start” could be possible for outdoor patios but it depends on city administrative staff’s workload.

A draft bylaw must be drawn up and stakeholder consultations must occur first, he said, admitting he expects the public to pay attention to this issue.

“There should be some buzz around it,” he said.

Lead image: The City of Fernie allowed outdoor patios downtown in 2013, with some controversy sparked over losses in parking.

Ian Cobb/e-KNOW

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