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Downtown Kamloops business owners in favour of year-round patios

The Vic was the first business downtown to expand their patio in May 2020.
The Vic was the first business downtown to expand their patio in May 2020.

Despite a loss of precious parking spaces, downtown Kamloops businesses have given resounding approval to keep the sidewalk patio extensions year-round.

Twenty-one businesses had their patios extended downtown this year with the project and all said it enhanced the overall downtown experience, according to a report coming to Kamloops city council, Sept. 28.

Sidewalks were extended to make way for patio space for over 20 businesses in Kamloops this spring in an effort to bring COVID-friendly patronage to businesses downtown and along the Tranquille Corridor.

Kamloops council first approved $200,000 in spending on the project in November 2020.

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The sidewalk extensions resulted in a loss of 40 parking spots and three loading stalls downtown, which so far has resulted in a potential loss of $15,000 in parking revenue to the City.

There were two parking spaces taken up by the sidewalk extensions along Tranquille Road, but they represented no loss in revenue because they were not metered.

Losing the downtown parking spaces through the winter could result in a loss of $60,000 from November to February while the patios will see minimal use.

After seeing the results of the survey, City staff are recommending to council that the sidewalk extensions remain through the winter so they can be used again for the 2022 patio season.

All but two businesses that participated in the patio project downtown were on Victoria Street, and all except the Kamloops Chamber of Commerce served food or drinks.

Of those that participated, 95% would like to see the sidewalk extensions remain through the winter, according to a survey conducted by the Kamloops Central Business Improvement Association.

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Twenty-three businesses that did not participate were also surveyed, and 74% of those said they would be in favour of keeping the extensions through the winter.

Most of the businesses surveyed that did not participate in the patio program do not serve food or drinks.

While the majority of those that did not participate were in favour of keeping the sidewalk extensions, 61% said the parking stall loss discouraged customers from coming downtown.

Council added $150,000 to fund the project in April, but so far, the sidewalk project has racked up a $197,000 - nearly reaching the amount first approved in November.

City staff estimate a yearly maintenance cost of $8,000 if the extended sidewalks remain in place through the winter.

However, if council decides to remove the extensions, it will cost roughly $70,000 to remove them and $120,000, mostly for labour costs, to reinstall once spring arrives.

Council first approved a temporary approval for patio extensions in May 2020 to help businesses keep customers coming amid public health regulations due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Later, costs to extend city sidewalks were covered by the COVID-19 Safe Restart grant awarded to the City.

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To contact a reporter for this story, email Levi Landry or call 250-819-3723 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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