The Truth about Patios

Duncans patio

Duncan’s patio as it finally ended up.

Duncans patio

What Duncan’s patio would have looked like curbside.

The “patio debacle” as I like to call it was the defining issue of the last municipal election. I have talked to many people about this and it seems this one issue ended up defining Chris Carriers time as mayor of Collingwood and all the perceived wrongs of that administration. I never really did understand the nuances of that particular community splitting issue because at the time it never really directly affected me.
Continuing on the theme of revisiting local scandals, boondoggles and brouhaha’s of the past. I have decided to revisit that particular situation and give it a “Nobody” spin:

In 2007 it was decided that the tired looking downtown needed a complete revitalization. In December of that year a committee was set up to make that happen, it was called “Downtown Collingwood”. During the design phase it was determined that in order to accommodate new trees, light standards and street furniture and to optimize accessibility by providing a straight, wide pedestrian walkways it would be necessary to move local eating establishments patios to the curb side of the sidewalk. Moving the patio’s to the curb side would supposedly allow for improved accessibility for those with disabilities.
Council approved the design of the downtown revitalization project in April 2009 and approved the funding September 2009.

The following is an excerpt from a staff report by then CAO Kim Wingrove presented to council on 30th November 2009

Challenges with moving the patios include:
1. Additional costs and regulatory requirements for business owners wishing to have licensed patios (additional liquor license, purchase of a portable refrigerated bar, power service to curb side location.
2.Increased liability to both the Town and the business owners due to potential conflicts between servers and pedestrians,
3. Town of Collingwood Fire Services have raised concerns regarding fixed patio fencing
hampering access to businesses in an emergency.
Downtown Collingwood met with their membership on two occasions (November 4 and November 17) to communicate the proposed changes and solicit feedback.
On November 19th, Downtown Collingwood provided the following resolution to the town:
“After reviewing the plan and the information received, the BIA Board of Management continues to support the Downtown Collingwood Streetscape Plan as it is. The board believes that the work undertaken to develop the plan took all issues into consideration and that the committee developed a plan that addresses issues of public space and accessibility. It also feels that it presents a plan that is fair to all businesses, regardless of their location and will give all businesses the ability to make use the new public space to build their business. The board does understand that the change presents challenges to some businesses, primarily those restaurants with existing outdoor patios. Understanding that these challenges will result in unexpected expenses to create the new model, the BIA is meeting with them to understand the possible expenses and developing a funding model to assist them in the transition to the new plan. It is expected that this will be similar to the process undertaken when patios were initiated, when assistance was given to help with the design phase and necessary capital
Downtown Collingwood has publicly expressed their intention to examine ways to provide financial assistance (purchasing some of the necessary equipment, for example) to assist restaurant owners with meeting the additional costs required by the relocation of the patios.
If the licensed patios were to remain adjacent to the buildings, the current patio bylaw will need to be amended to fix the depth of patios at 2m (rather than the current 2.5m). This would require amending the design to be flexible with regard to the width of the pedestrian walkway in front of those establishments. Essentially, the width of the pedestrian walkway at those locations would be 1.35m, rather than the 2.1m.

So the issues above are quite clear. Reading between the lines I would infer that Kim Wingrove was not a big fan of moving the patios.

That same evening the patio issue went to vote at town council. There was a first vote that essentially would have put the patio issue on hold until the all financial implications to patio owners were known. That was defeated it wasn’t a recorded vote but I can only assume that it was the same voting block as below.
Then the following:


The above is interesting, firstly take a look at where Chris Carrier was on this issue. Then take a look at all the people on council that voted to move the patios curbside. McNabb, Foley, Labelle not just beaten but trounced from council. Sandberg doubled by Lloyd. Jeffery reduced to third place behind unknown Mike Young for mayors chair. All the people that were against moving the patios away from the buildings are now on town council, except for Chris Carrier, who didn’t run for any position. I would definitely say this issue shaped the last election. I will also draw a parallel on the rec “tents” situation in the next election I believe that will be the defining issue.
It should also be noted that Rick Lloyd was a member of the executive of the BIA and was originally a big proponent of the patios being moved curbside. He flip flopped on the issue after the restaurant owners made their concerns public and obviously figured it would hurt his run for Deputy Mayor. He then used it as a wedge issue against his opponent Norm Sandberg in the 2010 election. A consummate politician!!!

Lastly, next time you hear someone call it “Carriers stupid patio bylaw”, he voted against moving them curbside, it was always Rick Lloyds stupid patio bylaw.


12 thoughts on “The Truth about Patios

  1. Now that the patio issue has been resolved, we can focus our attention on kicking some members of the current Council to the curb!

  2. A couple of things. If Carrier did defend the decision to move the patios to the curb because it was the decision of Council (even if was against his own opinion) then that was an honorable and sensible approach. I contrast that with Keith Hull’s more recent decision to vote against paying contractors for work done relating to the rec facilities (presumably because he was against the choice of facilities in the first place). Once Council has made a decision, dissenting members should get behind it and try to make the subsequent project as successful as possible (whether they agreed with it or not).
    Secondly, I’m not sure I agree with the premise that the patio issue was the ‘defining’ issue of the last election. There was much buzz about the increasing debt for example which – rightly or wrongly – was seen as a big failing of the last Council.

    • I’m not sure I agree with you there Bill. I would say its the mayors place to get behind a council decision. Councilors – not so much.
      Obviously there were other issues but I stand by my post, I think it was the defining issue of the 2010 election.

      • Bill, the Mayor is the official spokesperson for the municipality and as such is expected to articulate the reasons for a council decision without necessarily having voted with the majority. While Council members are expected to vote for a budget that funds the previous decision (sounds like Congress in the U.S.) they may chose not to do so for political reasons. In a Ward system it may be a matter that a Ward Councillor’s constituents are against a matter and the Councillor will represent his/her constituents. In a elected at large system like Collingwood it could be reasoned that a majority decision should be supported through the whole process but it is in my political career more often a personal-political decision of each member on how they vote. I think the crossing of the proverbial line is if a member who dissents actively trys to undermine the decision process moving forward.

  3. Carrier was not always against moving the patio curbside! I emailed both him and Councilor Mcnabb on that issue and Carrier defended the move. After the vote shown above, he changed his stance and supported the move of the patio curbside.

    • Shawn I spoke to Chris at length on this issue when I was putting together this post. If he did support the curbside patio decision after the vote he probably did it because that is his responsibility as the mayor to defend decisions of his council. I believe the vote speaks for itself.

      • Shawn, Colin I looked on the Town’s web site and you can search within the site for issues raised by various media. The April 27th 2009 vote for the downtown revitalization/re-development was a recorded vote. It was also an approximate 10 million dollar project, 7 million from the Feds and Province, 2 million from the local tax base (municipality) and 1 million from the BIA special purpose tax. Two members of Council were away that meeting, Councillor Norman Sandberg and I were away. The vote was 6-1 in favour. Both Sandra and Ian voted for the project along with Kathy, Sonny and Tim; the only dissenting vote was Mike. The project included the patios being curbside but I along with the majority believed that was conceptual and not wholly concluded. It was after that vote that Harry Ponser, Sean Cripps, Ruth Bourochat and other downtown restaurant owners voiced their concerns directly to council members.

      • Sean, Colin if you look at the Town’s web site and access the minutes of the meeting that Colin posted in his blog where the defferal of the decision for the patio location be deferred until 2011, and please note that motion to defer was made by Dave LaBelle and seconded by Me. The motion to defer was defeated; what Colin could not ascertain from the minutes was who voted against the defferal. The deferral was defeated because Sandra, Mike and Ian voted no to the derfferal. Now this was August 2010 and the election campaigns were underway. Sandra was running against Kathy for the Mayor’s position, Rick was running against Norman for Deputy (I believe Rick had announced by then); so there was an opportunity to take away the patio issue in the 2010 election and deal with other matters facing the Town. But instead the deferral was defeated and then the motion was called and myself, Sandra, Mike, Ian voted to leave the patios at the building and our colleagues (the majority) voted to move them curb. I never understood why Sandra, Mike and Ian voted against the deferral-we could have addressed the concerns of our stakeholders but instead the patios became an issue that I believe most of agree helped defeat certain candidates and certainly helped others win. The public upon reflection can consider whose interest’s were better served by the deferral’s defeat.

  4. Jeffery was the council rep for BIA as well. Christie was on the BIA board as well. Foley went to Germany and saw patios on the curb. Sandberg was afraid of Jeffery. Shearer was on board of BIA and needed downtown business and town of Collingwood
    to advertise in his pretentious magazine.

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