Outdoor patios became a fixture in town during the pandemic – but, originally, they were only meant to be a temporary solution.
Now, the town is looking at keeping the patios around, and it’s looking to residents, visitors and business owners for their input.
Town staff are collecting feedback on a proposal to make temporary patios permanent in Niagara-on-the-Lake.
Kirsten McCauley, the town’s director of community and development services, told The Lake Report that about 50 people stopped by an open information session on Monday, held at the old Court House, to ask questions and share their thoughts.
The temporary patio program was introduced in 2020, amid the pandemic, to help support the town’s restaurants while indoor gathering restrictions were in effect.
Then, in January, town council decided it wants to make the patio program permanent.
But before it can do so, staff is looking for ways to improve on the existing program.
McCauley said some people raised concerns about the patios interfering with people trying to park their cars.
Some temporary patios take up street parking, which leaves drivers with fewer places to leave their cars when visiting Old Town.
McCauley said the town also needs to be mindful of accessibility and fire safety requirements in its review of the patio program.
“All of those things are considered when we’re looking at whether or not we want to continue the patio program,” she said.
In addition to hosting the information session, the town is also collecting information through a survey available on its Join the Conversation page.
The survey closes Sept. 8.
Lauren Kruitbosch, the town’s community engagement co-ordinator, said the turnout was more than what the town usually sees at information sessions.
She said the temporary patio program “impacts lots of people,” including residents, visitors and business owners.
This might be one reason for the higher-than-average turnout, she said.
Most of the feedback on the town’s patio program had been positive, Kruitbosch said.
McCauley plans to bring a report on staff’s findings back to council in October.