The Town of the Blue Mountains (TBM) recently approved a plan that will allow local businesses to expand their patios on private and town-owned lands for the upcoming summer months.
“Right now it looks like outdoor dining is going to be the only option for some period of time, at least for about half the summer,” said Alar Soever, mayor of TBM. “We need to look at how we can support our businesses while doing it safely.”
Shawn Carey, director of operations for TBM, says there has been interest expressed through the town’s community recovery task force for “patio expansions that are wholly on private land, and then the creation of patio space onto town-owned land.”
At a council meeting held earlier this week, TBM council approved a plan that will offer local businesses the use of municipal lands, in the form of parking spaces, for a one-time, seasonal fee of $500, where the use is deemed appropriate, until Oct. 18.
The move comes after the council decided against installing jersey barriers along Bruce Street South in Thornbury this year, as was done last summer season.
Town staff have made it clear that without the jersey barriers, there is no room on the sidewalks for any patio seating as the municipality is trying to maintain COVID-19 social distancing safety measures.
TBM staff say they looked at the neighbouring municipalities to get a better understanding of their options could be for expanding patio options to local businesses.
In the Town of Collingwood, patio extensions are being offered to local businesses through a temporary boulevard encroachment by-law. Patios are permitted on the municipal sidewalk and on-street parking areas upon approval.
The Town of Meaford put a patio program in place in 2015 where interested businesses are required to enter into an agreement and provide proof of insurance that names the municipality as third-party insured.
In TBM, the use of the space will require approval from Grey Bruce Health Unit and the local fire department. Requests from local businesses will also be evaluated on existing site plans, available parking in the area, and the ability to have safe access to the property.
Jennifer Golletz, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, CollingwoodToday.ca