Burlington restaurants encouraged to set up outdoor patios for the summer


Published March 1, 2022 at 2:24 pm

Burlington councillors are likely to expand the city’s patio dining policy in an effort to help out local restaurateurs as well bring people to the downtown area.

The initial idea was to give restaurant some predictability and certainty regarding what will and won’t be allowed for outdoor eating spaces. With dining rules liable to change at the drop of a hat because of COVID-19, many establishments were finding it difficult to justify spending to create an outdoor dining space that might be out-of-use on short notice.

The new bylaw authorizes temporary outdoor patio uses, including tents, and eases zoning restrictions for such uses on private property until the end of the year.

For restaurants that want to use public land for a patio, city staff is recommending allow applications for a period between Apr. 15 and Oct. 31.

Brian Dean, executive director of the Burlington Downtown Business Association, and local restaurant owner Craig Kowalchuk spoke at todays (Mar. 1) committee meeting asking for a further reduction in costs for restaurants.

At their request, council waived the $250 public land application fee as well as lower liability insurance requirements from $5M to $2M. That alone could save businesses between $7,000 and $40,000 according to Dean.

“The restaurant sector is facing a multi-year revitalization effort,” Dean said, acknowledging difficulties with season staffing, supply chain and the reduction in frequency many people eat out.

“However, the 2021 season was pretty positive and there’s a lot of promise for the upcoming season.”

With all vaccination requirements being dropped in the province today, as well as allowing full capacity, local restaurants are hoping to see an uptick in business over the coming weeks and months.

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