Bar and restaurant owners could soon get a break on the city fee for patios.
At a special council meeting on June 10, members passed first reading of a bylaw for a 50 per cent discount on the daily fee charged for taking parking meters out of service for pop-up patios.
The discount would apply for the 2021 season only.
Given that it was first reading, there was no discussion on it at the meeting.
Council recently approved the pop-up patio program that allows bars and restaurants to use sidewalk and on-street parking spaces for patios, provided a number of conditions are met.
Those using the parking meter spaces are required to pay a daily $25 bagged meter fee for spaces taken out of commission for the patios.
At the June 7 meeting, Roddick proposed looking at a discount for the bagged meter fee, noting the costs associated with the program may be too much for some business owners who would otherwise be interested.
Along with bagged meter fees are increased insurance requirements and the cost to set up more seating and the like.
Roddick pointed out that for the three parking spaces, the cost could be more than $2,000 each month and suggested the 50 per cent reduction in the fee.
He argued it would not only be good for restaurant and bar owners who have been struggling over the past year due to COVID-19 restrictions, but also for the city in general. Roddick pointed to studies indicating that neighbouring businesses often benefit from such programs and that it would contribute to a more vibrant downtown.
“The bigger winner here is the public,” he said.
Other councillors noted their support to look at the possibility. Coun. Samson Hartland said officials at the Whitehorse Chamber of Commerce had indicated some businesses were unable to factor the possibility of a patio into their business plans this year and others have also cited the costs as an issue with having a patio.
Hartland suggested the discount for the 2021 season may be worth it in the long-run to assist bars and restaurants impacted by COVID-19.
Mayor Dan Curtis highlighted concerns over what he argued could be a perception the city may be picking favourites with a program that is available only to those with sidewalk or parking space adjacent. He said he’s spoken to a number of business owners who don’t have the option of a patio because of their location.
Curtis was not present at the special meeting when first reading was passed.
With it now passed, second and third reading are anticipated to come forward later this month.
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