Last fall, Niagara-on-the-Lake councillors thought they had put an end to the Pedal Pub operation in town, and were surprised to see it back on local streets this summer.
At Monday’s planning committee meeting, they decided to put an end to it again.
A discussion of the business and what to do about it was on the agenda, along with an expected presentation from Marlo Saganski, general manager of the NOTL operation.
When Saganski didn’t appear at the virtual meeting, councillors went ahead with the discussion, again due to concerns about safety on regional and town roads, and about the noise as it operated through residential neighbourhoods.
Councillors learned from the region that to ban the operation, the town should have passed a bylaw outlawing it from NOTL streets. That is now under consideration, and should be ready for approval in a couple of weeks, said CAO Marnie Cluckie.
She also explained to councillors that the regional licence does not expire until July, and with a one-month grace period, pedal pubs can continue to operate until the end of August. Councillors decided to ask the region not to renew the licence that would allow pedal pubs to operate in town past that point.
Tuesday morning Saganski told The Local that on the application to make a deputation she asked to speak at next Monday’s meeting. She was surprised to learn the discussion had gone ahead and a decision made. She had received an email just six hours before she was scheduled to speak, but was out with tours and didn’t see it.
She had planned to tell councillors the Pedal Pub operation has had no road safety issues or incidents since it has been in operation. Pedal Pub pilots operate in strict adherence to the Highway Traffic Act, she said, and all applicable rules of the road, as well as completing in-house and on-road training. The company has adjusted its tour routes according to council’s request last year, and no longer tours on residential streets, she said.
They have been collaborating with many small businesses in the area, including Butler’s Bar & Grill, Fournos, The Exchange Brewery, The Budapest Bakeshop, and the performing arts community, and in doing so, they’ve been beneficial to the local economy.
The company contributed more than $33,000 of revenue to its partners from its two-and-a-half-hour tours, and that does not include what guests spend before and after, while visiting NOTL, Saganski said.
“Pedal Pub NOTL closing will have a ripple effect that will impact the NOTL economy,” she said.
In discussing the future of the operation in NOTL, there were divided opinions of whether it should be allowed to continue.
Coun. Allan Bisback said it seemed to be “jumping the gun” to make a quick decision not to allow the operation to continue, at least until the end of this season, and he wouldn’t support a motion for a bylaw that would put an end to it when this season’s lease expires.
People are enjoying the ride, the drivers are trained, there is no alcohol served on the pedal pub, and cyclists and scooters on winery tours can be just as dangerous, he warned, calling it a “slippery slope” of other roads to go down if the town eliminates pedal pubs for safety reasons.
Coun. Norm Arsenault said he objected to the operation last summer, but he would support allowing them to
continue to operate for 2021, and then reevaluate the situation.
Coun. Wendy Cheropita said she too had had a change of heart, after hearing comments of the local businesses that have benefited from it, including one restaurant who had its best day in 15 months because of the Pedal Pub stop at its business recently.
Cheropita said she had spoken with a woman who had been on a pedal pub with a group of friends, and said what a great experience it was. There was respect for the environment, no hooting and hollering, and the music was turned down when appropriate. Cheropita too supported allowing the operation to continue for this season.
But Coun. Gary Burroughs said he had followed a pedal pub down Queen Street, watched it pass a horse-drawn carriage and make a U-turn to head back onto Queen Street, and park in front of The Exchange Brewery. He considered it to be a safety hazard in the busy traffic, and added that it will only get worse as there are more reopenings and more visitors to town.
The motion made by Burroughs to enact a bylaw to ban the operation on NOTL streets passed by one vote, to be
ratified by council on Monday, July 26.
Saganski was told Tuesday she would be placed on the agenda for the July 19 meeting.