A majority of downtown business that have an existing patio extension plan to keep using it in the future.
That is according to the results of a survey conducted by the Kamloops Central Business Improvement Association,
“Twenty five said yes, nine said no, so that is pretty significant,” Executive Director Howie Reimer said, noting 34 of 41 eligible businesses responded to the survey which was conducted by phone, in person, and by email.
“However, when you ask if there was a permit fee associated with keeping the existing patio extension, would you still want to keep it? Only eight said yes, six said depending on cost, and eight said no.”
Back in 2020 and again in 2021, the city brought in the expanded patio program to help businesses recover lost seating due to COVID-19 restrictions, which have all been lifted. The program saw the addition of curb letdowns in parking spaces on city streets at a cost of about $197,000.
There have also been 43 parking stalls displaced downtown, which is costing up to $15,000 per month in lost parking revenue, according to the City.
Reimer says a majority of respondents also said they’d be okay with a $100 monthly fee to keep these patios, with the money meant to offset some of that lost parking revenue.
“That is half of what they are paying in Kelowna,” Reimer added.
Broken further down by business type, 26 restaurant or cafes responded to the survey, along with five lounges, bars, pubs, and nightclubs, with one bakery. Two other businesses were classified as “other” by the KCBIA.
Sixteen of the businesses that responded were in favour of annual patio extension permits being issued. Another thirteen were in favour of it being issued from April 1 to Sept. 30. Four were in favour of monthly permits, while one was not in favour of it being issued at all.
“People that say it is about vibrancy, that it is the 21st Century so ‘let’s get with the times’, and that if it is good enough in other cities where they shutdown blocks, [it is good enough for Kamloops.] And then there are others that say ‘absolutely not. Not enough people are using them. We want our parking.’”
The survey results will go before Kamloops City Council by early next month, though Reimer says a decision is not expected until after the October election.
“I would like to see sort of a compromise,” he said. “There are different ways that you can do it but it has to work for the majority, and the will of the downtown businesses.”