Council does not want pedal pubs operating in town, and will tell that to the Region, which must make a decision on renewing the local company’s licence.
Because of the pandemic, the Region decided to extend all licences issued last year until Aug. 28, and must make a decision before then on whether or not to allow the company which operated them last year to continue this season.
In June, Tony Visca, the co-owner of the Pedal Pub, came to council to explain he was having problems getting his licence renewed by the Region. He was hoping for council support for the two most popular routes.
The Region is opposed to the attraction being operated on regional roads, and the route includes Niagara Stone Road, although for only a short distance between a winery and a brewery, two popular stops.
The Region has asked for input from council, and at Wednesday’s extension of this week’s council meeting, a staff report was discussed and a decision made, which was to tell the Region because of safety and noise concerns, the Pedal Pub is not considered appropriate in town.
The report from town staff said that without passing a bylaw that bans the Pedal Pub from town roads, there is nothing that can be done to restrict it to certain routes.
Last year was the Pedal Pub’s first season, with two bikes and two preferred routes, one sticking to town roads, the other also using regional roads, the report says. In addition to safety concerns on busy rural and urban roads, there have also been noise complaints from residents living on or near one of the chosen routes.
Visca told council in June the driver avoids Niagara Stone Road whenever possible, and keeps to the side when necessary, but can’t avoid it entirely on its preferred route.
One complaint came from a Garrison Village resident, who said last season the pub on wheels made its way through the residential neighbourhood, with patrons who were “loud and partying.”
Visca says his “pub pilots” play music at lower volumes in residential neighbourhoods, and turn it up when they move away from homes.
Lord Mayor Betty Disero told councillors Monday that the Region has found the first route to be unacceptable, and was asking for input from the Town on the second route, which goes through the residential neighbourhood. The suggested route would travel along Butler Street, through Butler’s Burial Ground and over a narrow bridge, used by pedestrians, and then through Garrison Village.
The wide bicycle would take up the whole width of the path, which would be unsafe for pedestrians who would have to move off it, councillors were told by interim CAO Sheldon Randall.
It’s loud, and not appropriate for a residential neighbourhood, he added.
“When it comes to lifestyle and safety of residents,” said Coun. Wendy Cheropita, “this is something all residents are against. As much as it is something visitors like, I would say it negatively impacts residents.”
Cheropita suggested there might be other areas in Niagara where the Pedal Pub would be welcome.
“We may not be putting this group out of business, we may be offering them an opportunity where they would be welcome.”
“I think there is a place for it, but I have some serious concerns about the routes that are going though town,” agreed Coun. Norm Arsenault.
In addition to safety, he added, “it has kind of a carnival feel to it. I agree there are better places where it could do quite well, but I’m not in support with keeping it here.”
Coun. John Wiens said he was disappointed last year when the Region issued a licence for the Pedal Pub company to operate in NOTL, without asking the town councillors whether they approve of the operation. For him, he said, the answer is “a big no, because of safety, and because of the noise and singing going through residential areas. I don’t think it’s appropriate.”
Although Coun. Allan Bisback also said he finds it safety issue, he asked about discussing alternative routes with the business owners, but was told by Randall he didn’t think there could be routes that wouldn’t take it on regional roads or through residential neighbourhoods.
“There are a lot of challenges with this. I’m not sure we can achieve a route that will not have an impact on residents,” said Randall.
Coun. Gary Burroughs suggested council recommend to the Region that the licence not be renewed, and Coun. Clare Cameron asked that the recommendation include that council discussed safety, traffic congestion and proximity of routes to residential areas as their main concerns.
Randall said the comments would be forwarded to the Region, and the Town could discuss a bylaw banning pedal pubs from Town roads.