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Kamloops may keep patio extensions for a price

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

Kamloops city council is set to consider whether it will allow downtown businesses to keep their temporary patios.

If approved, the City will remove the current brick sidewalk extensions and allow businesses to build their own temporary patios for $700 per season for each sacrificed parking space, according to a staff report.

The City spent nearly $200,000 to build the patios in 2021, which was spurred by an effort to give businesses more outdoor space in the heat of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Downtown and along Tranquille Road, 22 businesses had sidewalk extensions built to make room for more patio space, taking up parking space along the street.

The City used $197,000 from a provincial COVID relief fund to build the patios in 2021 and estimates $185,000 from the same fund is needed to remove them, according to the report.

"The sidewalk design does not lend itself to being easily dismantled and reassembled," the report reads.

Using patios that can be removed annually gives downtown businesses a compromise as some decided they want the parking space in front and almost none are used in the winter.

"It's been quite a tug-of-war between those who want parking and those who want patios," Howie Reimer of the Kamloops Central Business Improvement Association said.

Reimer suggested the $700 annual fee for each displaced parking space might not be enough to encourage businesses to use their patios. While he said he doesn't necessarily want to see businesses pay higher fees, it may discourage some from leaving their patios empty after they're constructed.

The staff report would include an option for pop-up patios between April 1 and October 31 each year, which would then be inspected by the City but construction costs fall on each business.

The $700 per parking space fee wouldn't cover the City's projected loss on parking fees, which it estimates to be $375 per month.

Kamloops city council is set to consider changes to its patio extension bylaw at its Tuesday meeting, Jan. 17.

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