Time to talk patios with city
By Ian Cobb
Seasonal patios in downtown Cranbrook were essentially given a green light last night by City of Cranbrook council when it approved the second and third readings of an amended Downtown Seasonal Patio Bylaw No. 3860.
After a debate by council, they unanimously approved the readings and would have passed final reading but at least 24 hours must pass between third and final reading in this instance.
Rather than call a special meeting of council in a day or two, council opted instead to pass the bylaw at its next regular meeting on July 18, even though several councillors noted concern about the summer season sneaking past.
City planner Rob Veg explained that “99 per cent” of all details have been ironed out and the patio program is ready to roll. “I realize we are late in the season” but there is still time to start a patio program, he said.
Business owners interested in having a patio can visit city hall right away to get all the necessary details, Veg said.
City chief administrative officer David Kim assured council applications would be expedited.
“A number of changes were made to the proposed bylaw based on council’s direction, feedback received during consultation and the legal review,” noted a Corporate Services report recommendation.
Changes include: council being given the authority to approve permits where a patio is intended to have cooking facilities; a patio cannot be operated on city lands unless it is in accordance with the bylaw and a permit has been issued; liability insurance requirements have been reduced to $2 million in the Licence; a tiered fee system is proposed for the seasonal fee.
“The new fees for utilizing parking spaces would be $50 per stall for 2016 and 2017, increasing to $300 per stall commencing in 2018 and thereafter. The application fees of $50 for intimal and $25 for renewals will remain,” the report recommendation outlined.
“Based on the changes made to the bylaw, staff is comfortable that the proposed bylaw meets the intent of facilitating the establishment of legal seasonal patio on city land while still meeting the initial four objectives stated above. As with any new program, should staff or council feel provisions of the bylaw are not working as anticipated as a result of implementation future bylaw amendments can be made to the bylaw to correct the issues,” the recommendation stated.
Business heavy hitters in the city have stated support for seasonal patios, though some business owners are against them.
The Downtown Business Association (DBA) stated in a May 25 letter to the city that it encourages the efforts being taken to create a bylaw to support and encourage outdoor patios.
“We are of the opinion that the measure of success of this initiative will be to have more patios operating in Cranbrook,” stated the letter, signed by DBA president Joey Hoechsmann. “It is imperative to the DBA that the city bylaw created is designed to encourage businesses to participate in this initiative.”
The DBA also asked the city to waive fees associated with the patio application process for 2016 and 2017 “to help support businesses interested in this initiative.”
In conclusion, the DBA letter notes a concern about “the lack of marketing in the presentation of the application. We want applicants to feel welcomed and encouraged that they are making a positive investment in the vibrancy of downtown.”
A couple of downtown businesses penned letter to the city, stating concerns about loss of parking.
Hemp 2000 owner Louise Shynuk suggested consideration of “all the surrounding businesses should be taken into account before any major decisions are made. Being that Cranbrook is so congested as it is, accessibility is a heavy issue that needs to be addressed.”
The Cottage Restaurant’s Beth Thom said “outside patios should not take up valuable parking stalls.”
Paul Augustine and Randy Martin of Mountain Man Outdoors Ltd. also voiced concern about loss of parking.
“These parking spaces are valuable to all downtown merchants, not just the merchants in the immediate area. We hear on a constant basis the dissatisfaction regarding the lack of parking in the downtown core.”
The Cranbrook Chamber of Commerce urged “swift passage and implementation of transparent and functional bylaws permitting and encouraging temporary seasonal patios in select portions” of the city.
“In discussion, the (chamber) board was of the opinion that seasonal patios would greatly enhance efforts to populate and vitalize the retail sections of our community,” stated chamber executive director David D Hull in a letter to the city.
Lead image: Cranbrook will soon have seasonal downtown patios similar to what the City of Fernie has allowed the last couple of years. e-KNOW file image