Policy eliminates sidewalk patio option

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Clearview council voted Monday to revise its On-Street Patio and Retail Display Policy to allow patios, bistro tables and outdoor displays with limitations, as long as they don’t take up too much of the sidewalk.

Patios will be allowed within the parking spot adjacent to the business, as is the case with Bank Cafe, and must be level with the sidewalk.

“We’re revamping how we do patios by addressing some of those accessible needs, and listening not only to council but other members of the community as to how those patios were received and how they were working in the community,” said Dan Perreault, director of public works. “The gist of the new policy is to eliminate the option to have a patio on the sidewalks. Because the sidewalks are so narrow it was challenging for many that I’ve heard from to navigate around the patio on the sidewalk.”

The policy relating to on-street seasonal patios in the downtown cores was revisited at the request of council who were looking for assurance that sidewalks would remain free and clear. “I think this is a real good compromise and I think it’ll smooth the flow of pedestrian traffic and ensure some more safety to patrons and pedestrians as well.

I think we’ve got a good compromise and we’ll give it a summer to let it run its course and we’ll be talking about it again this fall, I’m sure,” said Robert McArthur, councillor for Creemore.

In consultation with the Clearview Accessibility Advisory Committee, staff was directed to review a policy endorsed by council in 2022 to ensure it met accessibility standards in compliance with the AODA, and provided for safe passage of pedestrians, workers and traffic. In June, the committee met in Creemore to review the two patios that obtained a permit from the township – Bank Cafe and Chez Michel.

Chez Michel, co-owner Milynne Benoit said she and Chef Winston Barrett were not consulted during the process, although they had already decided to abandon their patio with a sidewalk bypass because it was too much of a moving target.

Benoit said with changing expectations Chez Michel was required to rebuild its patio at much expense so they have decided to return to the pre-pandemic style patio that historically existed beside the building, which they believe is grandfathered into their existing operations.

“We made that decision because we felt that we couldn’t continue to have someone change our policy every six month,” said Benoit. “The cost of continuing to adhere to their regulations as opposed to what was grandfathered with the building, it was too great.”

Going back to the old style patio means going from 36 tables down to 10 and a loss of six jobs.

But when they considered having a patio on the road they decided the liability was too high because waitstaff would have to cross the travelled portion of the sidewalk with food and alcohol and that technically a gate would be required to the area where alcohol was being served.

In the end they made decisions that would require the least amount of oversight by the township.

“The township didn’t consider a restaurant. They don’t understand the logistics of service and that’s why we’ve decided to continue with our grandfathered patio,” said Benoit.

She said they thought the walkway was a good solution but they have also taken a lot of abuse from people who didn’t like it and chose to voice their opposition in a very aggressive and inappropriate manner.

Deputy Mayor Paul Van Staveren said he received four letters in the past week in support of patios. “And that is what we’ve done here whether people agree or disagree. I think it’s a very good compromise,” he said. “We are listening to what the people have to say so thank you.”

The policy will focus on education toward compliance. If a bylaw is passed in the future it may include fines.

“I believe that patios are a benefit to Clearview the unfortunate part is that our sidewalks in some cases are a little tight so it’s certainly going to be a challenge to try and make some of the bistro [setups] and the displays work but I think between good conversation and good communication between staff and business that we can make things happen and make it work for everybody,” said Councillor Robert Walker.

Administrative fees will now be required for an annual permit: On-Street Patio fee is $350, Sidewalk Café fee is $80, and a Retail Merchandise Display fee is $80. The fees will help cover staff time for consultation and inspections.

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    The Town of Creemore has to show a more pro business policy.
    Inevitably it is the only way to increase the jobs available to residents.
    Very unfortunate that places like Chez Michel which in itself is a destination restaurant have had to scale down their operations.

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