On-street patios on tap
Report recommends continuing program, permitting alcohol to be served
On-street patios could become a permanent part of Hamilton’s landscape if councillors accept a staff recommendation.
At Tuesday’s planning committee meeting, councillors will be asked to turn last year’s pilot project into a permanent on-street patio program that would operate from May 1 to Oct. 31 within the city’s Business Improvement Areas and Community Improvement Plan Areas.
Up to 30 slots were available last year but only eight business operators participated in the program.
In a switch from last year’s pilot project, the staff report recommends that alcohol service be permitted if a licensed establishment obtains a permanent licence extension from the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario.
But any restaurants or pubs wanting to take part in the on-street patio program could face some hefty costs for what amounts to an on-street space equal to the size of one parking spot.
First, there’s a $400 administration fee to be paid to the city for each on-street spot. An alcohol permit extension carries an $815 fee paid to AGCO.
As well, an alcohol permit extension requires comments and inspections undertaken by the city that cost a further $499.
On top of all that, each patio operator must carry $5 million in commercial general liability insurance.
There’s also the potential cost of constructing a patio and storing it off-season, or renting a structure.
According to the staff report, all eight participants in last year’s pilot project were surveyed and “felt that the pilot was a success and they fully support a permanent program.” The report also states 113 patio patrons responded to a survey and “97 per cent were in support of the patio program.”
Kerry Jarvi, executive director of the Downtown BIA, said her association is “fully supportive” of on-street patios. “It adds a great vibrancy,” Jarvi said. Two of last year’s on-street patios were located on King William Street for the side-byside eateries Hmbrgr and FSH & CHP.
“It really added something to King William,” said Jarvi.
Last year, the owner of the Snooty Fox pub in Westdale said he withdrew from the pilot project because alcohol couldn’t be served.
Jordan Geertsma said he decided it wasn’t worth the cost. One patio the size of one parking spot would have room for only one table, he said.
Music or live entertainment may also be permitted with the on-street patios depending on how council handles a pending pilot project bylaw related to noise and outdoor patios.