Seasonal patio program focuses on business and accessibility

patio 1Calgary’s seasonal patio program is now in full swing with more than 110 restaurants taking part by constructing temporary patios on both public and private land.

The program’s focus this summer is again on improved accessibility, safety and supporting small business.

For the third year in a row, we are waiving the permit fees for seasonal patios and accelerated approvals for new applications. In 2022, outdoor patios became a permanent program with permits effective for three years, meaning most restaurants did not need to reapply this year.  

Erin Chrusch, Leader of Business & Local Economy, says The City is always looking for ways to support small businesses in our community, particularly the hospitality sector which was so hard hit by pandemic restrictions.

“This year, City Council again agreed to waive the development permit fees associated with having an outdoor patio. We know businesses have appreciated that support in past years and we are happy we could offer it in 2023,” she says.

The permit process has also undergone several improvements since 2020.

“It’s rare to get things right the first time you introduce a new program. Since the seasonal patio program was introduced, The City has worked with businesses and other interested parties to assess and adjust the permit process,” says Chrusch.

Kensington patio

“We keep incorporating that feedback and believe we are at a place where the process is clear and understood. It is a great example of what can happen when we all work together.”

Annie MacInnis, Executive Director for the Kensington Business Improvement Area, says each year The City process has become more streamlined and easier to navigate.

“The City has embraced outdoor patios and so has Kensington. Our patios bring vibrancy to our streets and the decorated concrete barricades and flowers in planters provide safety and beauty and whimsy to Kensington. We love our patios.”

Like last year, restaurants can either locate their temporary patios (those on public property) on the road in the parking lane or install a continuous boardwalk for pedestrians. These changes are a big step forward from the detours and temporary ramps used during the pandemic as an emergency solution.

“Over the past three summers, we have made significant changes to the patio program to improve accessibility. We are committed to providing barrier-free, level access for all Calgarians to navigate around the patios,” says Ravi Seera, Manager of Mobility Operations. “These changes have been extremely well-received and are considered the global standard.”

Calgary Parking, which recently joined The City of Calgary, is also thrilled to collaborate on the season patio program.

patio 2

“In Calgary, we all love patio season, and we are excited to support this initiative again,” says Reachel Knight, Calgary Parking’s Leader of Strategic Business Planning. “Prioritizing local businesses by providing restaurants access to our on-street paid parking areas makes a positive contribution to the community, one that we all can benefit from.

“It’s wonderful to see how many restaurants are taking part in the program again this year.”