For Ottawa diner owner Jeff Frost, patio season never arrives, and seems like it never will.
For two years, Frost has been hoping to serve customers seated on a brick patio located beside his Wellington Street West eatery, but ongoing delays and objections from neighbours mean the outdoor area may sit empty for another summer.
"It would just be fantastic to sit out here and have a burger and a shake under a natural canopy," Frost lamented, admitting he's running out of patience with city hall.
Frost has harboured his patio dream since taking over the Wellington Diner in 2015.
The patio came with the place, but Frost soon discovered he couldn't use it, thanks to a city bylaw requiring outdoor dining areas to be at least 30 metres from the nearest residential lot.
Because the patio is 19.3 metres from its nearest neighbour, Frost applied for what's known as a minor amendment to the zoning rules.
He's also offering to erect a two-metre fence to act as a screen between the patio and neighbour Geena Green's property.
"We're willing to do anything we can to appease any neighbour on this street," said Frost.
But it's not enough.
Neighbours fear noise
"We're opposed to it because of the issue of noise," said Green, who has lived in the same house near the corner of Wellington Street West and Western Avenue for 40 years.
"There's at least one patio every block. I don't really see what the issue is. Does every single restaurant in the entirety of West Wellington and Westboro require a patio?" she asked.
Frost, whose restaurant closes at 9 p.m., has gone so far as to hire an acoustics specialist to test potential noise levels. The summary, included in his application to the city, found noise from the restaurant would fall well below the city's limit of 50 decibels.
The specialist measured noise emanating from the busy street on a typical afternoon at more than 66 decibels.
Open house planned
Randy Kun, who lives across Western Avenue from Green and adjacent to Cafe Mio's bylaw-compliant patio, also opposes Frost's plan.
Kun worries Frost or some future restaurateur could extend their business hours, causing noise lasting later into the night.
"If it's NIMBY, yeah I guess. But that's how I feel," said Kun.
"All you have to do is Google 'restaurant noise' and you get lots of articles on the whole phenomenon on how restaurants are very loud with a lot people in them talking over each other, talking over the ambient noise," he said.
"We're assuming the same thing would happen here."
Jeff Leiper, the city councillor for the area, will co-host a community open house on Frost's application at the Hintonburg Community Centre on Tuesday, May 2.
City councillors will consider the issue later this summer.