Niagara-on-the-Lake Chamber of Commerce president Eduard Lafforgue says he is grateful to town councillors for considering the future of patios on Queen Street.
They had a report before them this week to approve the extension of the temporary patios until January 1, 2022, and when Lafforgue spoke to them at their Monday virtual meeting, he was hoping for an extension.
Instead, they agreed to review the program no later than this December, and look at what they want to do for next year.
Lafforgue says he is satisfied that they will consider an extension, rather than having an end date of January, 2022.
Patios are well-liked by residents and visitors, providing a safe and enjoyable experience, he says. They are also important to restaurants, which have struggled throughout the pandemic. They are hoping for recovery to begin this fall, and patios will help them navigate through that recovery, which is expected to last until 2026, according to Tourism Canada reports.
“We will not be able to make up for lost business for a long time,” Lafforgue says.
Coun. Wendy Cheropita was hoping for a guaranteed extension throughout 2022, but couldn’t get her fellow councillors onboard. With the stability that would have offered, restaurant owners might consider upgrading and investing more in their patios, she suggested.
Lord Mayor Betty Disero says she supports patios, but doesn’t like the way they stick out into the street, and are surrounded by concrete barriers, which the town requires for safety reasons. She would like to consider the long-term look of Queen Street, and told Lafforgue when it’s time for that discussion, she would seek input from the municipal heritage committee, restaurants and other businesses, the chamber, residents and council.
Coun. Allan Bisback asked for the December review to allow town staff to come back with their report of how patios are performing, with the potential of expanding the patio program for 2022, and also allowing for public consultation.
Having council support for patios is important, says Lafforgue, and the review will also give the chamber and restaurant owners an opportunity to have input in a decision for next year.