Taking it outside: the way for another season on the deck in the downtown paved by new resolution


Staff member
By Timothy Schafer, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

The merit of patios in the downtown was on deck for council as the need to retain the vibrancy of the Baker Street experience was debated.
A motion to extend the model of allowing sidewalk and street patios to operate for free was brought forward to city council Tuesday night during their regular monthly business meeting in council chambers.
At a request of the Nelson and District Chamber of Commerce — and in light of the ongoing pandemic and challenges for the food and beverage industry — it was moved to allow the temporary sidewalk café structures and expansion for the 2022 season to continue.
As well, council was asked to again waive the fees for the 2022 season “to help ensure that all businesses continue to thrive from having a vibrant downtown,” noted city Development Services director Sebastien Arcand in his report to council.
“In reviewing where the (regulations) are in terms of the public health officer’s order, and how things are slowly evolving, I think staff recommends that council waive the fees, but only waive the fees that they are normally allocated so if they do expand then the fees should be charged for that section,” he said.
Arcand noted that around one third of the downtown businesses with patios would like to expand beyond the allotted amount. Overall, the patio allowance works out to the loss of up to 35 parking spots in the downtown.
Late last month chamber executive director Tom Thomson said that low vaccination rates — around 78 per cent with the first dose — have excluded Nelson along with the West and East Kootenay and the Okanagan in a return to full capacity (with the proper protocols). While the rest of the province enjoys full capacity in its restaurants, theatres and sporting events, Nelson, along with the rest of Interior Health region, is still restricted.
The restrictions are having a negative impact on businesses. In the last BC Chamber of Commerce pulse check for the Kootenay region it was discovered that 21 per cent of businesses reported that they were in poor shape.
The pandemic has had a significant and even devastating impact on those small businesses with some sectors — notably tourism, food and beverage, live performance arts and theatres — not yet fully recovered.
Around 77 per cent reported operating costs increasing within the last year, while 52 per cent reported decreased sales volume and 42 per cent reported reduced staff hours. There were around 15 per cent reported as in good shape, while 35 per cent were in very good shape.
The city bylaw governing sidewalk café’s pre-Covid said a business could take its frontage — sidewalk and space on the street — and create a patio space to serve customers.
“In the bylaw we specified that you could have a larger patio provided the adjacent business was okay with it, but you could not expand your patio over...continued.

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