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Niagara Falls
Sunday, April 14, 2024
Letter of the Week: Vast majority support NOTL’s temporary patios
Letter writer Scott Gauld argues patios are supported by a majority of residents. FILE

Dear editor:

Rob Bongard’s views on Niagara-on-the-Lake’s temporary patios (“Temporary patios filthy and attract vermin,” letter, March 21) are clearly not shared by the vast majority of our residents, business owners or visitors.

They are also not shared by his hometown of Toronto, which is a large promoter of outdoor patios for local restaurants. 

In 2023, the town conducted a survey of residents, business owners and visitors to NOTL to elicit opinions regarding the outdoor patio program.

The response level of 390 surveys was one of was one of the highest ever received by the town and 93.1 per cent of respondents supported the outdoor patio program.

The main reasons for the strong support were stated as: 1. to enjoy the outdoor dining and the views of Queen Street, 2. patios provide a vibrant, charming ambience and inviting atmosphere and 3. patios support tourism and economic development in the community. 

There was no unfair preferential treatment  for the few patio operators as all food service businesses on Queen Street and elsewhere could apply for a patio permit.

The patios were built to meet town specifications for safety, accessibility and durability. There have been zero safety issues, traffic problems or accessibility problems identified by the town and reported to owners of the patios.

The patios clearly do not create a town parking problem. Only five of more than 720 paid parking spots in Old Town are used for patios and the average parking spot has a utilization rate of less than 35 per cent, even during summer months. 

The exaggerated headline in The Lake Report calling the patios filthy is completely misleading. A few pieces of paper deposited by a pedestrian into a barrel does not equate to a filthy patio and while some vermin have always lived in the area of Queen Street, patios are not the cause.

Virtually every municipality in the area, including Niagara Falls, St. Catharines, Grimsby, Burlington and Toronto have programs to encourage and support outdoor restaurant patios, including patios that occupy parking stalls.

Clearly these municipalities and their residents also enjoy the ambience and outdoor dining experiences created by the patios. 

Scott Gauld

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