By Jenna Cocullo, Local Journalism Initiative
Chatham-Kent restaurant owners may find it easier to construct permanent patios after council adopted changes that allow owners to use up more parking space. Live music will also be allowed.
A formal public notice, in accordance with the Planning Act, was sent out last month. No deputations were submitted by residents at Monday night’s council meeting, and the proposed amendments passed unanimously without discussion.
“Some business owners have noted that they may like to invest in constructing a permanent patio in future on their own property, but they are constrained in doing so because of current regulations in the Zoning By-law. Specifically, in several cases the only option to construct a permanent patio would be to use some existing parking spaces,” a report to council read.
The original bylaw was initially implemented to aid restaurant and bar owners who were incurring significant financial losses due to the COVID-19 indoor dining restrictions. At the time municipal staff helped the business owners establish temporary patios on private property and on the municipal right-of-way.
Under the new bylaw, 15 per cent of the existing or required parking spaces may be used to construct an outdoor patio. Owners must maintain accessible parking spaces. The use of musical instruments and mechanical or electrical music equipment is now permitted so long as it is in accordance with the municipality’s noise bylaw. Previously this was not allowed.
Dancing, theatrical performances, audiovisual presentations, music concerts, and shows still remain prohibited.
“The hospitality sector at-large is negatively affected by continued COVID-19 related public health measures,” the report stated.
“To support the efforts of these businesses through the pandemic and beyond, the municipality can use land-use planning tools such as zoning bylaw amendments to support and revitalize these important businesses throughout Chatham-Kent.”