Edmonton extending temporary patio program until April 2021 to provide more room for businesses during the COVID-19 winter

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The City of Edmonton is extending its temporary patio program throughout the winter to allow businesses to operate with more space outside during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This streamlined patio approval process was instated in May to allow restaurants and retail stores to expand outside without needing to apply for a permit or pay the associated fee. The program, with an initial end date of Dec. 31, will now run until March 31, 2021.

But not all restaurants interested in winterizing their patios are satisfied with the city’s plan. Patios won’t be able to extend across sidewalks, like in the summer months, as pedestrians will no longer be redirected into the curb lane. For Tiramisu Bistro on the southwest corner of 124 Street and 108 Avenue, their proposal to set up three heated igloos along the sidewalk was denied.

Owner Seble Isaac said she is frustrated with the city’s refusal of her winter patio idea as she grapples to find more room to serve customers with the weather turning colder. She already purchased the clear igloo covers that can accommodate up to six people.


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“This is the only hope of keeping everyone employed and implementing COVID-19 restrictions,” she told Postmedia Wednesday afternoon. “You can’t just tell people, ‘Put on your warm jackets, we’ll put up some lights and you go enjoy the winter.’ You cannot do that. You’ve got to create an experience and this is an experience I’m trying to create.”

Isaac said she is hoping the city reverses its decision or helps find another way that the igloos can be used on the sidewalk without blocking pedestrian access.

City spokesman Anthony Toderian said the challenges of snow removal and increased slipping hazards make winter patios more complex and the city is evaluating each proposal from businesses on a case-by-case basis.

“Pedestrian and public safety is always our top priority and so when we work with a business owner on their proposed patio plan, we want to ensure it is safe. This means that we will work with some businesses to adjust their patio proposals,” Toderian said in an email to Postmedia Wednesday. “For this winter season, we will not be redirecting pedestrians into the curb lane, as we did for the summer months, because of the safety risk of going up and down the curb ramps. We are eager to work with businesses to find a winter patio solution that works for them.”

There are three options for businesses to choose from over the winter, Toderian said. Businesses who will be removing their patios during the winter are asked to do so by Nov. 6. Those hoping to offer outdoor access on warm-weather days must sign a new application and also maintain two metres of pedestrian space on sidewalks. The third option allows businesses to set up a semi-permanent patio in consultation with the city.


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A winter patio isn’t new to Rocky Mountain Icehouse along Jasper Avenue, but co-owner Wayne Jones said during the pandemic it is essential as many customers feel more comfortable outside. The sidewalk patio will operate throughout the winter with plans for entertainment and other events, Jones said. Costs to insulate and heat the patio are high, but Jones said it’s worth it to ensure residents continue to support local businesses during the cold winter months.

“It’s an expense and we realize that, but I think it’s imperative we find ways to afford this for our customers and to retain that viability for people to have that choice to be outside if they really want to be,” he said. “We want to try and do whatever we can to make our customers feel comfortable and safe.”

Throughout the summer, 97 restaurants and 11 retail stores registered for a temporary patio expansion.




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