Patios in November gets green light from Barrie City Council

"To me, this is a slam dunk," said Councillor Keenan Aylwin

In an effort to give a financial lifeline to restaurants hit hard by the pandemic, patios will be allowed at restaurants in Barrie until November 30, as long as the weather permits.

The motion from Councillor Keenan Aylwin at Monday’s City Council meeting received unanimous support.

“This is one small way that we can support our local business community, not just in the downtown, but across the city through the Patios Everywhere Program,”said Aylwin. “And to me, this is a slam dunk.”

One potential fly in the ointment was avoided. Paving as part of the Dunlop Streetscape Project is about to begin. Aylwin praised the City and Downtown Barrie Business Association (BIA) for reaching a compromise that businesses affected by the paving could open their patios when the work is complete, which should take several weeks.

A staff report said if the paving did not proceed, the work would be carried over to next spring and downtown businesses would experience disruption again between April and June.

Restaurants will have to remove their patios within 48 hours notice from the City in the event of snow or ice conditions.

Snow clearing downtown will be suspended until the conclusion of the Patios Everywhere Program or the end November, whichever comes first.

The by-law requiring downtown businesses to remove snow and ice from their properties by 10 a.m. daily will remain in effect.

“I think Patios Everywhere was something we did early in COVID that has helped a challenged restaurant sector to survive,” said Mayor Jeff Lehman. “I think we all probably hoped when this program began we wouldn’t be talking about it in November.”

“Any business that’s able to create a comfortable environment outdoors in November in Barrie, we should give them all the kudos for that, and let them take their shot at doing that, because certainly we know that space means safety right now,” added the mayor.

To take the chill off, the BIA has said some patios have infra ray heat already installed, and other establishments are thinking about creative ways to warm up their outdoor space.