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Council looking at accessibility concerns around extended patios downtown

Last Updated Jun 17, 2021 at 8:42 pm MDT

CALGARY – Calgary city council will be considering a motion to change the temporary ramps that redirect foot traffic around extended patios on places like 17 Avenue SW.

The extended patios were thrown together last year as a way to help restaurants and pubs accommodate business in the pandemic era.

Dine-in seating was extended from the storefront into the sidewalk, with a temporary path laid out in the curb lane of the street.

The makeshift wooden ramps were set up connecting the street with the sidewalk.

And while some are brightly coloured and clearly marked, they can be narrow and shakey for people with mobility issues, on bikes or scooters, or for anyone pushing a stroller or towing a wagon.

Ward 7 Councillor Druh Farrell says the ramps and general accessibility to these pop-up patios need to be improved. She’s putting forward a motion addressing just that.

“When we do them, let’s do them right, and let’s ensure that everyone can enjoy, not just the street which is a requirement, but also, these are potential customers who aren’t able to access these businesses, so, we can do better,” she said.

Mayor Naheed Nenshi says the pop-up patios may end up being a long-term thing–but things need to change for that to happen.

“I have been very concerned about this issue of access,” he said, suggesting the city just “flips” the patios and walkways.

“Instead of moving the pedestrians onto the closed street, we should keep the sidewalk open and move the patio into that parking spot on the closed street. The reason we didn’t do that [before] is because in pandemic times, you don’t want the servers and the people on the patio really crossing and interacting with pedestrians.”

He says the topic will be discussed again in council on Monday.

-with files from Saif Kasiar and Tom Ross