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Temporary patio extension bylaw passed by town council

Town Hall Entrance


Town council has approved a new temporary patio extension bylaw, though at least one councillor wants fees attached to it.

A report from manager of licensing and enforcement Bill Tetler noted the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) used to be the body to provide authorization for temporary patio extensions for licensees under the AGCO’s jurisdiction. That body no longer provides that authorization, he stated, and the AGCO has made the municipality responsible for providing such approvals.

“The AGCO retains approval authority for permanent patio extensions. In seeking such approval, applicants are also required to comply with any applicable town bylaws,” Tetler stated in his report to town council.

Tetler wrote that given the new guidelines from the AGCO, the bylaw that was proposed includes provisions that would help ensure that temporary patio extensions “remain in a satisfactory condition” and that any concerns or complaints about a temporary patio can be reviewed.

“Temporary patios, or temporary patio extensions of an existing permanent patio, will still require an annual approval as the transient and/or changing nature of these structures from year-to-year will require the requisite application process and inspections to ensure yearly compliance with the bylaw,” stated Tetler.

The report continued: “The other significant change in the proposed bylaw is the authorized period of time for temporary patios. Under the new AGCO guidelines, temporary patios of AGCO licensees can be authorized for a period of up to eight months total in a calendar year (does not need to be eight consecutive months) for liquor sales licensees.”

Tetler said town administration has fielded requests from businesses seeking to extend their activities for such uses.

“With the change in provincial law, administration is seeking the adoption of this bylaw to formalize the process which requires year-over-year application for a temporary patio extension, as it had previously when applying to the AGCO,” he said. “The temporary patio extension allows for businesses to follow a simple application process which does not involve or impact site plan control, since it is not permanent in nature.”

Tetler further wrote “as with any establishment or permanent patio, all other applicable municipal bylaws must be adhered to. This proposed bylaw will provide a permanent, clear, and consistent application process for applications, approvals, and enforcement if necessary.”

Local resident Linda Saxon expressed concerns with the bylaw. She wanted to know the required number of accessible spaces and that those spaces are not used by patios. She wanted to know the process for fencing approval as well, also identifying accessibility needs.

Saxon also brought up concerns over accessible washrooms and noted at least 20 per cent of tables have to meet accessibility guidelines. She added patio decorations, signs or queuing areas should not impede pedestrian pathways. Saxon urged town council to consult the public, people with disabilities and the accessibility advisory committee.

Councillor Peter Courtney said a benefit is gained to businesses to “those that have the logistics to be able to extend their patio.” 

“Do we, the town, collect any money off their prosperity? Do we charge more for square footage of commercial real estate space?” he asked.

CAO Valerie Critchley said the town doesn’t have a sidewalk patio policy and the bylaw is for those establishments who establish a patio on public or private patios.

“We just want to make sure the area is safe, it’s to code, all those kinds of things,” she said.

Critchley added municipalities allow such patios to contribute to the health of local businesses with no additional taxes. She said it’s a best practice with municipalities.

Councillor Diane Pouget noted Saxon’s presentation regarding AODA issues and wanted more information. Mayor Michael Prue believed the AODA information is in the report.

“I think the more patios, the better,” said Councillor Don McArthur.

McArthur said it is more table space allows more residents a chance to dine locally and not have to go to Windsor. He noted not only is it for restaurants in the Open Air footprint, but for all.

Tetler indicated adherence to the AODA is included the process and said businesses would not be allowed to use an accessible parking spot. Critchley added applications have to be AODA compliant and meet applicable standards.

Permanent encroachment fees are $400 but there is no fee for a temporary patio bylaw.

“I think they should pay something,” said Courtney.

Courtney made a motion that temporary patios be charged the same fee as in the permanent bylaw. He disagreed with Prue initially, who wanted to take it as a notice of motion instead, but Courtney would later agree to that. Prue indicated it should be an agenda item at a future meeting in case someone wants to speak to it.

Critchley said there is only two permanent patios in Amherstburg with an $85 fee annually for both.

The encroachment fee should be “universal,” Courtney added, as municipal staff have to be utilized for compliance purposes. He believed the money would be covered in one day by businesses.

Temporary patio extension bylaw passed by town council

By Ron Giofu


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