‘There is strong support for both patios and retail merchandise to continue,’ says town clerk
Now that nearly 2,000 people weighed-in for a survey on downtown patios, Collingwood council has some decisions to make.
During the March 6 corporate and community services standing committee meeting, councillors will be presented with three options for a new bylaw concerning downtown boulevard patios and retail displays.
A public survey on the subject was open from Feb. 6 to 24 on the Engage Collingwood page. According to the staff report to be considered by councillors on Monday, 1,983 surveys were completed and two email responses were sent to the town on the subject.
“There is strong support for both patios and retail merchandise to continue,” noted town clerk Sara Almas in her report to councillors. “Within this survey we asked what people wanted to see in the downtown, with the top three (answers) being patios, fresh produce for sale and public art for display.”
The staff report headed to the committee meeting on Monday recommends various options from maintaining status quo from before the pandemic with winter patios approved on a case-by-case basis and no on-street patios, to creating a new, temporary bylaw that would permit on-street patios. Another option for council to weigh is a speed reduction on Hurontario St. to 30 km/h because of on-street patios.
In 2024, there is a downtown “visioning” exercise planned that could bring more changes, so the proposed bylaws, if pursued by council at this time, would be temporary.
Under a status quo option, downtown merchants pay annual fees of $80 for a sidewalk retail display, $150 for a sidewalk patio licence, and $3.50 per square metre per month to lease right of ways (sidewalks) for the patio. Staff propose an annual licence fee of $350 for street patios, plus a lease rate of $5.50 per square metre per month. If the street patios use a parking space, the report proposes an $8 per day fee.
While patios and retail merchandise have been permitted on the sidewalks of Downtown Collingwood for more than 10 years, during the pandemic the town expanded patio rules for downtown businesses to allow more seating and retail options outdoors to reduce the transmission of COVID-19.
This was permitted through a temporary encroachment bylaw which first went into effect on June 15, 2020 and expired Jan. 1, 2023. Under the bylaw, patios were permitted to expand beyond their building frontage upon receiving consent from the neighbouring business and ability to utilize on-street parking spaces to accommodate physical distance separation requirements for additional seating.
Merchandise displays were permitted during hours of operation, including tents along the curbside which were previously restricted to weekends and holidays.
Now that the bylaw has expired, councillors will be considering whether to keep the arrangement going, and how it should work long-term.
If a new bylaw is approved by council, the town would be looking to implement the new bylaw in April, ahead of this summer’s patio season.
Some of the concerns raised in the staff report include a reduction in downtown parking spaces to make room for the extended patios, the costs associated with procuring barriers to make patios safe from vehicular traffic and the consistency of fencing and building materials from business to business while staying in line with downtown Heritage district rules.
To read the full report to be considered by councillors on Monday, click here.
The corporate and community services standing committee meeting will take place on Monday, March 6 at 2 p.m. Any members of the public may attend in person in council chambers at Collingwood town hall, or virtually by Zoom webinar. The meeting will also be livestreamed on the town’s YouTube channel here.