The City of Calgary has changed some of its regulations around outdoor patios as the weather begins to warm and people look for places to eat and drink al fresco.
For the third year in a row, the city will waive fees for business applying for a patio permit, it announced in a release on Monday.
Erin Chrusch, acting lead for business and local economy with the City of Calgary, said the city recognizes this is a transition year for businesses in the wake of two years hampered by COVID-19 restrictions.
Alongside waiving application fees, the city has changed the rules for where outdoor patios can be located.
"This year, business operators, wherever possible, can locate their seasonal patios in the parking or curbside lane," said Chrusch.
"This will leave the sidewalk unobstructed for pedestrian accessibility."
Patios set up on sidewalks must allow a two-metre clearance for foot traffic, according to the city's release.
Darren Fabian is the director of operations at Modern Steak. He said the city's new approach to patios will make a difference for their restaurants this coming season.
"[Patios] are a game changer for us during the day especially," said Fabian.
Last year at Modern Steak's Stephen Avenue location, Fabian said the restaurant was able to seat an extra 65 people — increased occupancy being a key ingredient for businesses trying to recover after the pandemic.
Fabian said that money saved on a patio application can now go toward hiring more staff, or routine restaurant maintenance.
"I understand that the city is trying to run a business too, but ... every little bit helps."
Restaurants like Modern Steak are looking forward to getting back into a consistent rhythm this summer, said Fabian. He hopes patios will help bring about those efforts, especially as the weather gets warmer.
"[Patios] lift the collective mood … everybody's attitude changes and the amount of time [diners] spend with us changes as well too," said Fabian.
"In the summer everybody wants to stay and hang out and … on the street especially, people watching can be a sport. It's fantastic."