Narrower sidewalks,street furniture make patios more difficult
City staff reject some applications, local councillor makes exceptions
By Kris Scheuer
(Written May 28 for Town Crier.)
There’s may be a growing patio culture along St. Clair West, but not all businesses are having and easy time joining in the fun.
In some cases construction has resulted in narrower sidewalks and new garbage bins, bus shelters, trees and utility poles have made it a challenge for cafes and restaurants to get patio approvals due to the minimum clearance required on sidewalks to accommodate pedestrians, strollers, carts and wheelchairs.
Recently, three cafes and restaurants around Arlington and St. Clair Avenues were originally denied patio licences by city staff.
“As a result of the reconstruction of St. Clair Avenue West, permit locations were reviewed to determine if the construction had any impact on the permit clearance,” stated the May staff reports. “The relocation and or installation of street furniture such as utility poles and tree pits within the right of way have caused the reduction or elimination of the 2.13 metre pedestrian clearway required.”
As a result, city staff denied patio permits for Aquolina and Prop restaurants and Pain Perdu. Their owners all appealed to community council for have those decisions overturned.
In some instances during construction, sidewalks were also narrowed to accommodate an extra traffic lane for lefthand or U-turns on St. Clair, explained St. Paul’s Councillor Joe Mihevc.
Nonetheless, Mihevc found a way to accommodate all three patios, which were subsequently approved at community council May 25.
He went out with city staff to measure how large a patio could fit and still allow enough passable sidewalk space for people in wheelchairs and other pedestrians.
Mihevc had a motion, approved by community council, stating patios at all three locations be allowed for depths of up to 1.9 metres.
“People want to sit on the street and businesses are setting up patios,” he said. “These (sidewalk clearances) are technical standards that can be appealed to community council. I’m going to accommodate as many as I can.
“What’s happening is a vibrant patio culture is being born on St. Clair,” said Mihevc. “It’s adding colour, excitement, interest and a buzz.”
Do you like to eat and drink at restaurant patios or do you prefer to sit inside?