CALGARY – The bright orange fences that line patios in Calgary have been called an eyesore and an accessibility nightmare, but for restaurants – extended patios have helped them survive the pandemic.
Now, Ward 8 Councillor Evan Woolley is hoping to make them a permanent fixture in the city, pandemic or not.
“We live in a winter city in a lot of ways, and in the summertime, we want to enjoy our outdoors,” said Woolley.
There have been concerns from the disabled community that they can be difficult to pass through with a wheelchair, but Woolley says if they become permanent, they will be on roadways, not sidewalks.
“We had significant challenges around the ramps getting on and off the street, but given any new permanent setup for them would leave the sidewalks open we just wouldn’t have the challenges we had.”
Jeff Jamieson owns Donna Mac – and says the extended patio added 45 extra seats on top of the 75 they already had, but with physical distancing, it was the saving grace for revenue during the pandemic.
“It definitely got us through a tough period when people were reluctant to head inside.
“Restaurants and bars just went through the worst 16 months they have experienced and we’re not out of it. Many of us aren’t able to open for full hours because we can’t staff them properly. Anything that we can do to support the community, obviously I’m biased, but I would like to see that support,” Jamieson said.
Making them permanent means more investment, and the fluorescent orange may be a thing of the past.
“They weren’t very attractive with the bright orange barriers, but those won’t be a part of any future patios,” said Woolley. “They’d be on the street, we’d have some specs for the business community, they would look a lot nicer.”
The one piece left to work out is traffic – 17 Ave. is one of the city’s most congested roads, especially now to make way for patios – Woolley says that issue needs more attention.
“We still move cars and busses up and down those streets and that still needs to work so we just need to coordinate those efforts,” Woolley said.
The motion brought to the finance committee Tuesday will be discussed at council in September.