Further changes to the city’s on-street, pop-up patio program could be coming forward to Whitehorse city council.
Darcy McCord, the city’s acting manager of land and building services, brought forward a report on the program at council’s April 4 meeting outlining possibilities that could allow for more on-street patios.
Changes to the city’s lease, encroachment and property use policy would be required.
In March, council approved changes to the on-street patio program so that restaurants and bars that put up on-street patios in the 2022 season will not have to pay the bagged metre fee.
At the same time, administration was asked to look at the spacing requirements for on-street patios as well as insurance requirements.
The on-street patio program was developed in 2021 to offset COVID-19 seating restrictions. Under the program, restaurants in the downtown core could set up expanded seating into parking areas on streets, provided certain conditions were met. They included having barriers in place, meeting distance requirements and paying the bagged meter fee for parking spaces taken up by additional seating.
With no uptake in 2021, the city looked at ways to bring down associated costs, opting to remove the bagged metre fee for the 2022 season while also considering the six metre distance requirement between moving vehicles on the road and insurance.
McCord noted that streets with parallel parking had not been included as part of the patio program because the streets are narrower and it would be particularly difficult to fit patios within the regulations.
“An alternative approach has now been explored which could set a new narrower dimension that would apply to pop-up patios in parallel parking spaces, while still maintaining adequate clearance for passing vehicles,” he said, noting the patio could be made slightly narrower than the width of a parking space to maintain the existing traffic lane.
“Applying this approach would result (in) a maximum patio width of 1.8 meters,” he said. “As parallel parking spaces project 2.4 m from the curb, it would leave a buffer of 0.6 m between the travel lane and the outer edge of the patio.”
He noted that if the patios were enabled in parallel parking spaces, administration would not recommend they be permitted on Second Avenue and most blocks on Fourth Avenue.
A change to angled parking spots could also be made by allowing a maximum patio width of four metres.
“Angle parking spaces project 4.3 m from the curb, leaving a buffer of 0.3 m between the travel lane and the outer edge of the patio,” McCord explained. “The only difference is the method of measurement which would be to measure from the curb to the outer edge of the patio and avoid trying to measure the edge of the travel lane, which may not be apparent if there is no line.”
He noted the city’s engineer has confirmed that the method would “be satisfactory from a safety perspective.”
On the question of the $5 million liability insurance those with the on-street patios are expected to have in place, city staff noted work was done by the city’s insurer to look at other jurisdictions and it’d not recommended any changes be made.
Coun. Ted Laking, however, questioned whether Vancouver was among the other jurisdictions looked at, highlighting a three-tier system that city has in place for patios. He argued the system “merits looking at” and asked that city staff confirm Vancouver was among the communities considered.
Staff will gather that information ahead of the April 11 city council meeting.
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