Published March 16, 2023 12:00 a.m. ET
Two beers sit atop a table at an outdoor patio on Somerset St. W. in Ottawa, July 3, 2020. (Taylor Rossi / CTV News Ottawa)
If you’re hoping to party on Ottawa patios until 2 a.m. this summer, you’re in luck.
Councillors will vote on making a 2 a.m. last call on patios a permanent rule. It was brought in as a temporary measure to help bars and restaurants during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“To provide consistency, staff are recommending that all Right of Way (ROW) patio permits issued be subject to a closure of 2 AM,” a city staff report to transportation committee says.
Prior to the pandemic, patio hours had varied across the city. About 40 per cent closed at 11 p.m. and another five per cent closed at either midnight or 1 a.m.
‘Right of way patios’ are those that are set up on city property, such as sidewalks.
For the last three years, the city has introduced a so-called “patio innovation program” that included a number of measures to support patio operators facing economic hardship because of the pandemic.
That included permission to stay open until 2 a.m.
The city staff report says the program helped create a “consistent and equitable approach” by allowing bar and restaurant owners to align their patio operations with their business hours.
“Staff continue to note that the consistent closure time has provided clarity for patio operators and enforcement staff and has been successful due to the associated stepped enforcement strategy,” the report says.
Staff acknowledge there is a risk of increased noise after 11 p.m. as a result of this change, a concern some councillors raised when the temporary change was made.
But they note that all patios will still be subject to the city’s noise by-law and a proposed patio by-law that will see conditions imposed on their patio permits for rule-breaking.
Those could include earlier closing times or having their patio permits rescinded.
The city is reinstituting patio fees this year after waiving them during the pandemic. Restaurants and bars will pay for the space at 50 per cent of the pre-pandemic rate, with the city eyeing a return to full fees in 2024.
The city’s transportation committee will discuss the matter at its meeting on March 23.