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Councillors support outdoor patios in downtowns

A motion to stop issuing outdoor patio permits for downtown businesses was not supported at Thursday’s committee of the whole meeting.

Councillor Roy Pennell, due to concerns over parking and safety for pedestrians, requested a motion stating no further permits be issued, and that the bylaw be rescinded in November.

He was supported by councillor David Harrison, but the others around the horse shoe were in full support of the three-year-old program.

Councillor Kevin Gale heartily supports the patios, noting some businesses are hanging on by their shoelaces in the winter are thankful tourism keeps the area alive in the other seasons.

“This is a very slippery path to go down. This is an economic driver for an area that is increasingly a destination,” said Gale. “Tourism keeps a lot of jobs and a lot of businesses alive. If you ask some of these businesses, if it wasn’t for tourists, they wouldn’t be here. They can barely pay their bills in the winter months. I would like to see more patios.”

Councillor Lenny Epstein agreed.

“We have a very limited nice weather season in Ontario and the more we can all sit outside, the better it is for all of us,” he said, noting recent investments in parking lots, free parking for those with accesibility issues and a dynamic streetlife.”

Councillor Steve Ferguson agreed outdoor patios bring vibrancy to the Main Streets and also attract people to explore areas they may not have been before.

“In the case of the 555 that is drawing people toward the west end of Picton – basically a dead zone before.”

Neil Carbone, Director of Community Development, explained the bylaw’s specific municipal criteria, including accessibility and visibility issues, that applicants must meet before being allowed a patio. He suggested the bylaw could be updated using the past three years experience as reference.

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  1. Mark says:

    Dine at the malls in Belleville! Now that being termed as dining is funny. Persons young and old can navigate a patio. This is way over blown.

  2. ADJ says:

    Just another reason to shop, dine, and do business at the Malls of Belleville. Will the local drivers come back to the Picton stores, banks, hearing clinics etc. after an awkward parking experience on the Main street? Probably not. Who pays the liability if a car accidently climbs the curb and wipes out a few innocents having lunch? The County gave the ok…. they are collecting the permit fees, so are they responsible? Does the restraunt/bar owners policy cover an outdoor patio on property they do not own? Finally is it really worth the effort financially and what it’s doing to your neighboring businesses on the same street. One thing about Councils decisions,they won’t take the time to lay out ALL the reasons for granting the ok on issues…results are irate citizens and rightly so.

  3. Marnie says:

    Maybe this is why we DON’T live in a big city. We like the tempo of life in the county. Patios such as the one at Chez Piggy in Kingston are enjoyable but what we have on Main Street here is something different. People are incongruously parked on the sidewalks with nothing but pavement for ambiance. The patio at the library is an exception. It offers shade and is on library property. This makes sense. Telling older people to suck it up and walk is insulting. Many have real problems in getting around. They need accessibility more than tourists need patios.

  4. hockeynan says:

    What would you do in any big city because there is no parking? Give this a break just because there are a couple of patios witch you can get through very easily. I love going to Kingston and eating at there patios and enjoy the outside feeling as summer is way to short.

  5. Vic says:

    Janet – simply an excellent comment! That is exactly the kind of thing folks who don’t have that personal experience forget about when they draft these kinds of bylaws. Yes, Mr. Carbone the bylaw does need revisiting to sort these things out.

  6. Janet says:

    For all those glibly suggesting that seniors can walk a few blocks to get where they are going, I cordially invite you to deliver my mom to her next hearing aid appointment at Hitchon’s, located in the armoury mall. Without the accessible parking that used to be available there, I have no idea how to do it. She uses a walker and has very limited mobility, so a few blocks walk would be the equivalent of a 3 mile run for you. Still, she likes to get out for appointments or even a meal at a local restaurant, and I think she could be afforded a few pleasures in life, don’t you?

    You could drop her off, which means you can stop on the street, get the walker out of the back of the car, help her out of the car and over the curb to the sidewalk, and you could leave her there. Except she has some dementia, so she might not be there when you get back because she forgot where she was and that you were with her. This might all take 10 minutes, so she might find the honking of the horns while your car is double parked a little disorienting. Ditch your car and walk the few blocks back to take her into her appointment and look forward to reversing the entire process when the appointment is finished. What could have been a pleasant outing for both of you is a logistical nightmare with a lot of needless hurdles to overcome, and a great deal of inconvenience for other motorists who may not show a lot of patience with the process.

    I hear the gears turning. Well, if you just did this, or that…. You’re right, I could bring someone with me, drop that person off to wait with my mom while I deal with the car, but she still has to get out of the vehicle somewhere. Believe me, I have thought through the various potential scenarios to make this outing as smooth as possible, and each idea comes up short. Oh I know, what if there were some accessible parking spots in front of the business most frequented by seniors – that might help.

    The parking concerns are real, and with a little imagination you could see how that could be, even if it does not affect you personally. Shouldn’t everyone should have access to the amenities in their own community? Pitting parking against patios is just another one of these bitter bunfights that accomplishes very little except further dividing people in the community. With a little planning and forethought we could likely have patios for those that want them, AND parking for those that need it.

    Meanwhile (and especially in the summer with the extra volume of people and traffic), for me and my Mom, every outing into the community has to be planned like a military campaign, and sadly some favourite outings have to be curtailed because it is simply impossible to get there.

  7. Beth Globe says:

    I keep reading these arguments. The simple thing, is if you do not want patios or your shopping experience to be interrupted, you will never like patios in Picton. I love the vibrancy the patios and the stores are adding to the downtown core. It helps to bring people into the towns to spend their money here, instead of taking out of Prince Edward County.

    Yes, it’s for a short period, but for that short period, there is an increase in the local economy. This is good for all of us.

  8. Dennis Fox says:

    The outdoor patio concept can work – IF proper thought has gone into it. What I have seen at one of them is that it looks like an “after thought” and doesn’t look very pleasing to the eye(Just my opinion) – and like it or not, it does take up 2 parking spaces across the street from the bank and where other stores exist. Now one on the comments mentions roof top patios should be considered. Council needs to get a handle on this issue of outdoor patios – of all styles. Downtown is surrounded by residential neighbourhoods – it is only a matter of time before one of the patios wants outdoor music and/or entertainment – what public process is involved to decide these issues? It is better to lay the ground rules now, before an application is submitted – with public input. To react after the fact, as we have seen in so many cases, just doesn’t work and it causes the public a lot of unneeded stress.

  9. Marnie says:

    Exactly the point, Paul and James. Visitors leave the city to get away from it all and now council is trying to recreate the city on Picton’s Main Street. The sidewalks are now crowded with patios, patio tables for two, and sandwich board signs. Pedestrians should not be expected to navigate this obstacle course. It would be a different matter if these so-called patios offered scenic views or tranquil spaces. Instead occupants are practically sitting in the middle of Main Street traffic with every passer-by treated to a glimpse of what they ordered for lunch.

  10. james says:

    Paul Cole:

    Excellent points.

    My buddy from Brampton says it takes at least two days to get into the rhythm of The County — where we actually invite people to jaywalk without yelling at them or trying to intimidate with vehicles. He notices we usually are very polite, and after two days he is enjoying the best therapy in coming to The County; is amazed we put coins into expired meters; admits we don’t try to score points by hitting pedestrians, and never looks for a patio — too dirty with road grit and smelly with exhaust fumes — now an inside window seat to observe the passing parade, — that’s another matter.

    He realises that rushing down Main Street only gets him to negotiate “The Town Hill Weave” two minutes earlier, but at the cost of missing social interactions along the way, such as handing out wedding cake from the back of a pickup to pedestrians, all without the benefit of that blessed patio in the big city which he is trying to escape … He asks that if we have all this going for us, why would we try to emulate the ills of the big city.

  11. Paul Cole says:

    The lovely smells of exhaust fumes and a cold beer sounds relaxing a cheese burger and diesel fumes even yummier. Congested roads and now congested sidewalks seems to eliminate the relaxing laid back atmosphere The County once had. I always thought thats why city Folk came to The County to get away from the rat race and relax where things were a little simpler and less expensive, its kind of sad to see our little community becoming more and more like the big city ain’t it ?

  12. Ken Globe says:


    Cyclists should not be driving on the sidewalk period. Unless it’s a small child, they should be on the road, where they belong. I have no problem challenging a cyclist who is riding on the sidewalk. The people who parked their bicycles on the sidewalk side of the boardwalk impeding pedestrian traffic should have been found and told to move their bikes. There are lots of other areas to lock up your bikes.

    As for the attraction to the patios, we have a fairly short warm season in this country, it’s nice to be able to sit outside and enjoy a brew, a bite to eat, and watch the world go by.

  13. ADJ says:

    Any thoughts to roof top patios where possible?

  14. james says:

    Ken Globe & Dennis Fox:

    Maybe I am missing the point about street patios with bicycles being parked in the section where pedestrians are supposed to walk … similar to what I observed in Wellington last Saturday where pedestrians were forced to walk in the roadway.

    If people want patios so that we can make tourists think they are still in the big city — though one then wonders why people travel to our small towns.

    Just as any pub that breaks a provincial law and could be penalised, then the pub that does not properly enforce operation of its patio should be warned and maybe penalised for breaking a bylaw. Remember, some people’s first thought is to sue and to see where the dirt sticks. Maybe if there is an unfortunate incident, individual councillors could be sued.

    However, there is a positive side to the patio issue. If every business serving food along Main Street from The Regent Theatre to the Town Hill were allowed a patio taking up two or three parking spaces, then parking problems would be solved on that section — there would be no parking spaces left.

  15. Ken Globe says:

    The people who parked their bikes on the inside of the fence impeding the sidewalk should have been found and told to move their bikes, and why they should they move their bikes.

  16. Dennis Fox says:

    As I stated earlier, I am not opposed to outdoor patios or more specifically on street patios. However, what I experienced today needs to be addressed… the wooden extension at one of the downtown pubs was used for parking bicycles on the INSIDE of the fence. These bicycles were touring bikes with side saddle bags filled with equipment – meaning they took up a lot of room on the inside, making it a challenge for pedestrians to walk by. I doubt very much if anyone in a wheelchair could have negotiated around them easily. I don’t believe this extension was built to accommodate bike parking – they should have been told to park the bikes on the outside of the fence – where there was plenty of room for them. My concern is for the handicapped person – a lot more thought should have been displayed by this establishment. What regulations are in place to govern this oversight?

  17. james says:

    Gary Mooney, you are absolutely correct in saying July and August were almost construction free. However, during any construction hiatus, there were still barricades and fence panels along the sidewalks that made it almost impossible to reach some stores.

    My point is that construction should have been carried out during off-business hours, as was Kingston’s Princess St. project.

    I spoke to one owner who stated when compared to 2016 he lost $24,000 revenue during each of July and August, 2017. Where is council support for tax-paying businesses?

    It is my understanding that 6 Main St. businesses folded due to construction-period losses which tipped them over the edge. There is also a spin-off effect in that people who might have shopped at the lost businesses could have patronised others.

    Where does council recoup these lost taxes? Of course, they approach others, you Gary and me, for increased taxes.

  18. Gary Mooney says:

    James, you said: “… while the council allowed Main Street Picton to be torn up last Summer during working hours …”

    In fact, County government arranged for no construction and no obstructions on Main Street Picton during the whole of July and August last year.

  19. Marnie says:

    David, parking on King Street is not an option for many older people. It is a very busy street and it can be difficult to cross safely from the new parking lot to Benson Park. Fine to say that people can walk but for a lot of seniors it is not as easy as you make it sound. We need parking more than patios. On any given day it is almost impossible to find a parking space on the market square or Mary Street. When the Royal Hotel project is up and running things can only get worse. The main benefactors of these patios are restaurant owners and tourists. And to think that people once complained about sandwich board signs on Main Street.

  20. David says:

    Wherever we travel in the world, we gravitate toward patios when seeking a meal. Happy that the Council stood behind the patio bylaw. Admittedly, Wellington faces a more crowded situation, and maybe it would be best to be more selective when planning for the location for some patios.
    In Picton, there is now the King Street parking lot, adding to the Mary Street end Market lot. Add a couple of more handicapped spots on Main to allow for fhose who cannot walk those distances. Most people can certainly walk a couple of blocks to get to the bank or library. If you lived in a bigger city, you would have to.

  21. james says:

    There is no question the Council definitely got right the patio issue!

    Saturday, June 17 I watched as 7 ladies riding bicycles eastward on the sidewalk of Wellington Main Street forced pedestrian traffic (whom I must have been mistaken to think were MEANT to use the sidewalk) rather to walk in the road to avoid being hit by the bicyclists, and had to chance being struck by vehicles negotiating the stoplight at Wharf and Main intersection.

    Also forced to 33 highway was a gentleman in an electric wheelchair. Maybe he should have been charged for having no licence for a motorised vehicle on the highway.

    The lady tourists were unfortunately inconvenienced by having to dismount to circumnavigate the patio in front of “Stache on Main”.

    The Wellington United Church parking lot Saturday Market was in full swing as well as The County Horticultural Show and Sale on the north side, and families also were using Wellington Park and Playground. I waited to see the mayhem the bicycle tourists were going to cause for both locals and tourists at the Market, the Show, and the Park.

    However, I did not see any effect the bicycle ladies would have had on the many pedestrians. Also, how did I “know” the bicyclists were in fact tourists? Those answers were simple to ascertain as the bicyclists rode into The Drake Hotel for their weekend lodging.

    What is wrong with this scene? Let me suggest:

    1-Pedestrians, (local and tourist), drivers, and a majority of merchants are all inconvenienced by patios. After establishing these obstacles which have potential for a lawsuit versus The County using our tax money, council has apparently decided no assessment of the patios’ effect is required.

    2-Despite council expressing concern for some businesses losing income, another very few merchants are favoured. In the case of Wellington, not only does the favoured merchant cover two parking spaces, he obstructs a third at the corner, and then greedily parks his personal vehicle in a fourth spot, removing from use 4 parking spaces for not-so-mobile, and in fact, also physically capable people to access the bank, the grocery store, the pharmacy, the hardware, the general store, an insurance office, as well as other businesses.

    How to be a good neighbour, and how better can the council show their over-whelming support for the majority of merchants?

    The best I could do Saturday was offer any inconvenienced or injured pedestrians my name and telephone number to be called as a witness during a lawsuit.

    I hope if I personally am hit and must sue, that the injury is not too severe, but becomes quite lucrative. I live on a meagre Canada Pension and would welcome an enhanced income with support from county council — Sorry taxpaying neighbours.

    Maybe with the largest waterworks payments in Canada, we can also become the community with the largest per capita insurance payments in the country. Is there any financial reward for organisations topping a Guinness World Record?

    Is this the same council trying to help merchants remain in business while the council allowed Main Street Picton to be torn up last Summer during working hours, discouraging business without proper compensation?

    Is this the same council that offered concern for Royal Hotel renovators while refusing to assist a neighbouring business to secure compensation for laid-off workers and for the business owners when the Royal Hotel insurers refused to offer a proper settlement?

  22. Jack Dall says:

    Council got it right!

  23. Marnie says:

    By eliminating all discussion of patios we would be helping the water issue how?

  24. Dennis Fox says:

    I’m not opposed to the idea of having patios, but when we have a downtown that has no library parking and the banks have very limited parking – making it difficult for seniors or handicapped people to get to either of these locations – then the loss of 2 or 3 convenient parking places becomes even more important. So what are the priorities of this community?

  25. Gary says:

    And patios are a concern over basic water needs? What have we become?

  26. Marnie says:

    Do we really need these so-called patios? Hard to imagine why anyone would enjoy eating on the sidewalk with Main Street traffic only a few feet away. Council should keep its year-round residents in mind as well as the tourists. The convenience of senior citizens and other pedestrians should trump the tourists’ apparent desire to inhale exhaust fumes while lunching on the sidewalk. The only decent patio is the one at the library. It is shaded, off the travelled portion of the street and offers some ambiance.

  27. Vincent says:

    Having vibrant town centres where people can sit and enjoy themselves is great for all of us, as well as adding to local spending as part of our growing tourism industry.

    Sure parking is important, but if that County made that its only priority, we’d have sterile and lifeless towns.

    Thank you to our hard-working elected officials.

  28. Vic Alyea says:

    It is unfortunate that Councillor Pennell’s call to stop issuing permits was not heeded. The loss of parking spots in downtown Wellington makes it more difficult for seniors with mobility problems to access the bank, grocery and hardware store in particular during the tourist season when the village is literally overrun with visitors. I benefit financially from those visitors but am greatly concerned for the safety and well-being of our older residents who either reside in the village or come to the village for services. The current location in Wellington was not carefully considered by county staff as to its location and the problems that it currently creates. I’m disappointed in the majority of council.Thank you councillors Pennell and Harrison for your efforts!

  29. Dave says:

    Yes patios are great, but! most tourists get here by car and they have to find a spot to park. Good luck!

  30. Marc says:

    The patios are great. Glad that council supports them.

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