Council backs downtown patios

UPDATE: Council says yes to downtown sidewalk patios

by John Devine
City Scene Barrie

Barrie’s city council took another step towards downtown revitalization and branding Monday night when it accepted recommendations that could establish sidewalk patios, store awnings and blade signs in the city’s core.
But it will come with a financial cost. As the patios are located on downtown sidewalks, pedestrian flow will move around them onto parking spaces redesigned to handle foot traffic. Each parking space taken out of action will mean $1,040 in lost revenue during the proposed seasonal timeframe for the patios, April 15 to October 15.
“It is estimated that the revenue from one parking space utilized as a ‘pay and display’ spot or by using the parking meter, over the seasonal period of time, is approximately $1,040 if that one parking space was utilized Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., charged at $1 per hour,” according to a staff report.
“As an example, if two parking spaces were utilized by a business and there were five business establishments that applied for outdoor patios, the perceived loss of revenue would be $10,400 over the seasonal period.”
In endorsing the report, council signalled its unqualified support for the latest wave of revitalization efforts proposed by the downtown Business Improvement Association, and recommendations from Roger Brooks of Downtown Development International.
“The BIA and City staff have attended presentations, met with Mr. Brooks and have formed a Downtown Working Committee to facilitate and implement revitalization improvement measures for the city centre/downtown core,” says the report, adding that items including the patios, awnings and blade signs were discussed.
Staff has also been working with the BIA since October 2009 to bring the patios to downtown sidewalks.

When sidewalk patios arrive in downtown Barrie this season, pedestrians will move around them using temporary sidewalks built on parking spaces, separated from vehicular traffic by fencing.

The pedestrian routes around the patios, onto the parking spaces, will be fenced to separate pedestrians from street traffic.
“Fencing must be substantial, such as wood or wrought iron framing to ensure pedestrian safety, and also must be of a quality material and design that maintains an attractive presence in the downtown.”
Temporary sidewalks around the patios are to be constructed at the same height as the permanent sidewalks to remove any accessibility issues. To deal with noise concerns, amplified music will not be allowed.
Costs for the temporary sidewalks will be covered by participating businesses, the report recommends. The BIA is to retain a structural engineer to assist businesses construct the sidewalks.
To erect storefront awnings, business owners will be required to enter into encroachment agreements with the City, as the awnings will hang over the sidewalks. According to the report, awnings “may exceed the projection limit (section 10.2 of building bylaw 82-45) of 40cm, therefore requiring the business owner to enter into an encroachment agreement.”
To establish quality and design standards, the BIA will have to sign off on storefront awnings before they can be mounted. They will have to be mounted at a height of 3.5 metres from the base of a building, “with a clearance of no less than 2.7 metres in height above the existing grade in the lowered positioned.”
Blade signs, basically thin hanging signs attached to storefronts, will add another dimension to the visibility of business signage and branding. The report says the signs would be a minimum of 2.4 metres above sidewalks, with a maximum size of one metre wide and one metre high.
As with the awnings, businesses wanting a blade sign will have to enter into an encroachment agreement.
To speed up approval for the coming season, the report recommended, “that the execution of the encroachment agreement be delegated to the city clerk.”
Staff is to report back to council after the season on the success of the initiatives, which are up for council ratification next Monday.

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