Barrie city council to consider extending outdoor dining hours

Province enters Step 1 to reopen economy beginning Friday

People could get an extra hour of patio time at their favourite restaurant and bar in Barrie.

City council is holding a special meeting on Thursday evening to consider extending outdoor dining from 11:15 p.m. to 12:15 a.m. until indoor dining is permitted under the province’s COVID-19 reopening framework. As well, individuals would be allowed to enter and re-enter a patio area until 11:30 p.m. rather than the current 10:30 p.m.

“When we heard that the province was pushing up the opening of patios to this Friday (June 11), we thought this was a perfect opportunity to help our local small businesses, particularly restaurants, with their recovery from the end of the pandemic,” said Ward 2 councillor Keenan Aylwin, who is the mover of the direct motion that council will deal with.

“It’s a way to safely support our small local businesses while also giving people an opportunity to get out and enjoy the outdoors safely, and have some social interaction that I think all of us have been so desperately waiting for.”

The Ford government announced on Monday it was going to reopen parts of the economy and enter Step 1 on Friday, which is several days ahead of schedule.

Among other things, patio dining with a maximum of four patrons per table will be allowed.

Aylwin said extending outdoor dining by an hour is a way to allow local businesses to come back strong in terms of their recovery from this pandemic.

“And I think it’s a great way to have that sense of community and social connection, as well,” he added.

Aylwin said once indoor dining is permitted, the city will go back to normal hours for patios.

“This is to recognize the fact there are people who live in and around the downtown and around areas with restaurants with patios. We do want to make sure that they aren’t disturbing those residents with the extra noise.”

Aylwin said there is not an associated exemption from the noise bylaw with the extended patio time.

If city council gives the green light on Thursday, the timing works well for downtown establishments as Open Air Dunlop will take place Saturday, when Dunlop Street between Mulcaster Street and the Five Points intersection will be vehicle-free.