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Council approves trial for sidewalk cafes

Alan Harrison, Councillor - File photo
Alan Harrison, Councillor
— image credit: File photo

City council has approved another trial project for the downtown, this one allowing sidewalk cafes.

Until Oct. 31 of this year, downtown business owners will be able to apply to the city to establish a sidewalk cafe in front of their business. A memo by staff to council notes that while some restaurants have outdoor patios, sidewalk cafes are untested in the city, as there is no legal arrangement for a seating area that encroaches fully over a sidewalk and perhaps into a street.

Responding to council’s expressed interest to allow sidewalk cafes, staff worked with the Downtown Parking Commission and Downtown Salmon Arm to first see if there was any interest. Engineering and public works director Rob Niewenhuizen said there were initially six respondents, three in favour and three opposed. A trial period was later determined to be the best course of action, during which only two permits would be allowed. Two parking spots would be tied to each permit, as they could be utilized as an eating area, or for the placement of a boardwalk that would go around a sidewalk eating area.

“This needs some flexibility, so we would have to look at anyone who was interested in this opportunity; they would basically provide a proposal to the city, to staff,” said Niewenhuizen.

“We would review it and work with them, because obviously parking stalls don’t always fall right in front of a business…”

The application process will be guided by terms of reference, and applicants will have to pay $300, plus a $150 fee per parking stall, as well as a $500 refundable damage deposit for the sidewalk.

Niewenhuizen noted one issue is that parking stalls do not always align directly in front of businesses, and that neighbouring businesses could be impacted.

“And you know parking is a bit sensitive down there…,” commented Coun. Alan Harrison, later stating he would support the trial period.

“I think the idea is such a great idea. The actual, making the idea work is going to be more difficult, but I think it’s worth a try.”

 

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