/Pull up a chair: Province temporarily allowing restaurants to expand patios 
A temporary expanded patio was being set up at Boshkung Social along Minden's Water Street on June 16 in accordance with new permissions from the province. /CHAD INGRAM Staff

Pull up a chair: Province temporarily allowing restaurants to expand patios 

By Chad Ingram

The province is allowing restaurants and bars to temporarily expand their
patios as dining rooms remain closed amid the COVID-19 crisis.
Last week, the Ford government began a phased reopening of businesses outside the GTA and Golden Horseshoe area. Among the changes in what it refers to as Stage 2 are that restaurants and bars are able to have patios open, with physical distancing protocols in place. The government is also allowing business owners to temporarily extend their patios into areas normally not used for seating, or for businesses without licensed patios to create new, temporary patios.
“As part of its broader package of relief measures for Ontarians and businesses impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak, the government of Ontario has introduced new measures to support liquor sales licensees in temporarily extending their patios in order to safely reopen for businesses,” reads  correspondence from the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario that was received by Minden Hills councillors during their June 11 committee-of-the-whole meeting. Expanded patios can operate for the remainder of the calendar year, and must meet criteria including a location adjacent to the licensed  premises, physical control of the space, and municipal approval. There is no additional licensing fee at the provincial level.
Councillor Bob Carter wondered how that physical control of expanded patio spaces was going to work. “So generally, patios in Ontario, if there’s liquor being served, there’s usually a fence or something else around them. So, what is this going to mean, because obviously if somebody has to start
moving fencing and things like that, that’s going to make this more of a permanent thing, or at least a much more troublesome thing. What do you
think it means?”
“And that’s one of our questions, is how are you going to make these five or six requirements here work,” said chief building official Colin McKnight. “I think we’re just going to try to do it on a temporary basis and hopefully not have to recreate the wheel here for the businesses, but at this point, that’s what we’re saying to them, can you show us how you’re going to make these work, somehow?”
McKnight said it could be as simple as a roped-off area and Councillor Jennifer Hughey said she’s been in touch with a couple of local restaurant owners who intended to use rope or tape to surround expanded patio areas.
Councillor Pam Sayne suggested that perhaps the township could lend some of its barriers – the type normally surrounding the beer garden at the Haliburton County Fair, for example – to business owners. “So if we can provide anything that we’re not using, to help those downtown busineses
particularly, to fence off, to make it clear, I think we should try to support them in doing that with the equipment we might have that we’re not using,” Sayne said.
Mayor Brent Devolin said he agreed in principle, but questioned if the township itself would require use of those types of barriers. “The thing will be, that as we return to the new normal, with our municipal property that we have and our own facilities . . . I suspect that we’re going to need this,” Devolin said.
Since restaurants expanding patios into parking areas would mean a decrease in the number of parking spaces required of them in the municipality’s zoning bylaw, there was some discussion of a technicality in the Planning Act, whereby it’s legislated that businesses that don’t meet their parking requirements instead offer payment to the municipality.
“It does require payment of money in lieu of parking,” said planner Ian Clendening. Councillors said if it was required that a fee be charged, then that fee should be minimal, at $1 or $2 a property. Council delegated authority to staff to assess and approve expanded patios.