Changes to the city’s seasonal patio program would ensure improved accessibility along Calgary sidewalks.
The proposed changes were delivered to the city’s infrastructure and planning committee Thursday, in advance of the upcoming outdoor patio season. An amendment to the proposal waived the 2022 proposed fee as businesses made adjustments. That fee removal would result in a city loss of roughly $680,000. It would be covered by the fiscal stability reserve and roads reserves.
More than 200 temporary seasonal patio applications were sought last year. That’s nearly double the 116 in 2020.
John Bolger with the City said they did have some accessibility concerns with the temporary set ups.
“The accessibility community had concerns related to the past detours going up and down and up and down and ramps removed by different people, which caused issues,” Bolger said.
That prompted a change to allowable designs, to create a continuous path along the sidewalks. Also, the patios had to be a continuous extension from the sidewalk.
Jim Brown, who sat on the city’s advisory committee, said they support the desire for sidewalk patios to add vibrancy to the hospitality sector.
“We recognize that businesses have been hit hard by the pandemic and sympathize with them,” Brown said.
“Our committee has over the past two years been examining the problems surrounding accessibility (with) the old temporary patios with the diversion of foot traffic onto the street level being dangerous and in many cases impassable for mobility devices.”
Brown said having a clear path of travel was an important component of this.
The city also wants to eliminate the bright orange (and ugly) barricades that cordoned off the temp setups.
Concerns with the split
Ward 7 Coun. Terry Wong asked about potential measures to avoid hazards that may come with the level crossing and sidewalk split.
Wong was concerned about the safety of servers and other staff as they integrated with crossing pedestrians.
“They’re concerned that they may walk into pedestrians and spill a bowl of soup on them,” he said.
“We’ve also heard concerns that the point-of-sale machines that are often taken out of the building to process the credit card, debit card payments, the Wi-Fi services are not strong enough and consequently they require the payment to come inside.”
Committee supported the proposal, with many councillors saying that they need to aid the hospitality industry coming out of the pandemic.
“Anything that we can do to help our small businesses, that are the bread and butter of our city as far as I’m concerned, I’m happy to support. At least for the short term, until they recover,” said Andre Chabot.
This item was approved unanimously at committee and will require full approval at council.