City Moves to Expand Outdoor Commercial Patios

City of Kenora Media Release

Today, Council approved changes to the Commercial Patio Policy to support the reopening of local restaurants and as a part of the City’s COVID-19 economic recovery plan.

Restaurants have the opportunity to develop temporary outdoor patios on municipal property. From June until October 15, sidewalks and parking spaces can be created into innovative, stimulating, and accessible outdoor patios for residents and visitors to enjoy.

The changes are beneficial for those businesses that currently do not have space to offer outdoor seating and for existing patios to expand. The approved changes include:

• use of municipal parking spaces to a maximum of four spots
• waiving of application fees
• flexibility on insurance provisions

To further support this initiative, the Lake of the Woods Development Commission is delivering a grant program for outdoor commercial patios funded by the Municipal Accommodation Tax. Applicants can receive 50 percent of the costs to a maximum of $2,000 for the development of new patios or expansions of existing patios on municipal property. The program supports costs such as materials, labour, furniture, flowers, lighting, signage, and other costs approved at the discretion of City of Kenora staff.

In accordance with new safety protocols, outdoor patios offer benefits to both the business operator and the customer. An outdoor patio expands the seating capacity of the restaurant creating greater revenue potential. The added space allows for proper social distancing so customers can feel safe while enjoying a meal or beverage.

It is important to note that to date restaurants and bars can serve customers by curbside pickup or takeout and patio service only as permitted by the Ontario government but this could change at any time.

“We are hoping that these changes will support restaurants within the community as they work to re-open,” says Megan Dokuchie, Economic Development Officer. “We want to see patios open to bring energy and busyness to the Harbourtown Centre and beyond downtown once again.”

“Both the expanded patio policy and the grant program are important tools in the recovery and rebuilding of our local economy.” says Mayor Reynard. “We are all looking forward to enjoying a meal or beverage on a patio at a local restaurant and knowing it is helping our local businesses makes it so much more meaningful. I encourage everyone to go out and support our local restaurants.”

The amended policy supports work that has been undertaken by the Kenora Business Partners – a group of six organizations including the City of Kenora, Northwest Business Centre, Lake of the Woods Business Incentive Corporation, Harbourtown BIZ, Kenora and District Chamber of Commerce and Northwestern Ontario Innovation Centre – to assist the business community during the COVID-19 crisis.

Any business that is interested in learning more about the opportunity to develop an outdoor commercial patio is encouraged to contact the Development Services Department at 807-467-2127 or by emailing mdokuchie@kenora.ca

There will also be a virtual information session hosted on Thursday, June 18, 2020 at 9:00 am. This will be an opportunity to learn more about the process from City of Kenora staff as well as hear from Red Lion Smokehouse in Thunder Bay on their experience in building a temporary pop-up patio. For more information and to register, please see https://kenorapatiopolicy.eventbrite.ca/