Photo: Castanet Staff
Crews installing a paver brick sidewalk extension in downtown Kamloops on March 2021. City council will discuss phasing out the existing sidewalk extension program and introducing new guidelines for businesses wishing to put up their own extensions during their Tuesday meeting.
The future of the City of Kamloops’ sidewalk patio extension program could be decided this week, with city council slated to discuss Tuesday whether to remove some or all of the paver brick extensions this spring.
The sidewalk extension program began early on in the COVID-19 pandemic, with some restaurant owners saying it provided a lifeline when public health orders barred indoor dining altogether or restricted how many patrons could be seated indoors.
According to a staff report prepared for Tuesday’s council meeting, a total of 22 businesses in downtown Kamloops and along the Tranquille corridor requested the brick sidewalk extensions over the last two years.
Staff said the sidewalk extensions were built over 40 metered parking stalls, which costs the city an estimated $15,000 per month in parking revenue assuming all stalls are fully occupied.
The report said the current design for the sidewalk extensions was meant to be temporary, and some businesses have indicated they no longer need the extra space.
“The recommendation preferred by staff will allow the existing businesses that want to keep their extended patios be permitted to retain them for this year, and the businesses that no longer require them to have their bypass sidewalks removed and the parking stalls re-established,” the report said.
Staff recommended removing all bypass sidewalks by Nov. 2023 — the end of this year’s patio season — and introducing a new program which will allow businesses to construct their own sidewalk extensions according to city guidelines for the 2024 patio season.
According to the report, it will cost $53,000 to remove just under half the sidewalk extensions this spring and to maintain the remaining sidewalks throughout this year’s patio season.
Staff estimated it will cost an additional $51,000 to remove the remaining sidewalk lengths in the fall.
Alternatively, the report estimated a cost of about $81,000 if council opts to remove all the sidewalk extensions this spring.
According to the report, the cost of removal will be paid for with the remaining COVID-19 safe restart grant funding, provided by the provincial government.
Staff said a survey conducted by the Kamloops Central Business Improvement Association indicated the patio program led to a positive impact, and there is a desire to keep the existing patio extensions, although many businesses value parking spots over patios.
According to the survey, some businesses indicated they would be willing to pay a fee for an extended patio.
The report said staff recommended implementing construction guidelines and licensing procedures for businesses to put up their own extended patios for the 2024 season, with a fee of $700 per displaced parking stall over the seven month patio season — April to October.
Staff recommended a 50 per cent reduction of the fee for the first year, to help offset part of the construction expenses for businesses who wish to put up their own extensions.
The report said for business owners who believe the cost of an extended patio doesn’t justify the need for additional seats, the original patio program — which allows sidewalk patios so long as there is a 1.5 metre width for pedestrians — still provides some outdoor seating with “minimal annual cost.”
The sidewalk extension program will be discussed during city council’s meeting on Tuesday afternoon.