There never should have been a “Patio Debate”

Restaurant patios, or as I like to call them a couple of tables set up for people to eat or drink on the sidewalk, after 3 years still seem to be a galvanizing issue with the residents of Collingwood. No sooner had I posted my “Truth about Patios” bit here:
Then the old arguments immediately flared up again in email and in comment. But of course I knew that would happen that’s why I did it. My take for what its worth and I know this will not be a popular sentiment with many of you is…….. wait for it ……………let me take cover………… if I had to choose I actually think curbside worked better. Take a look at the two pictures below:
patios 2
Duncans patio
Cue steam coming out of Sean Cripps and Shawn Chartrand’s ears!!! Relax boys read on:

I was just in Germany . Over there you see a mixture of curbside and next to the restaurant chairs set up for the purpose of patrons enjoying outside refreshment. See below:



The placement of tables and chairs on a sidewalk seems to be based on common sense and what works best for the establishment and pedestrians. There are no legions of bylaw officers waiting to pounce with bylaw infraction notice in hand. They don’t need a power supply and refrigerated trolley, nor fencing around everything. There are no conflicts with pedestrians walking on the street. It all just works. Because when you leave government out of things people generally do what is right and what works for everyone. The problem is in North America we now live in a litigious society governed by a “Nanny State” and you will get sued at the drop of a hat even if the person that is suing you does something really stupid. So in fact the state has to protect stupid people from themselves and we let them do it in many aspects of our lives.

A case in point. A week or so ago I was in Hamburg, we had to take a ferry across the Elbe river. The place where I boarded the ferry was a dock with a metal shed on it, nothing else, no railing to stop anyone falling in the water no signs everywhere warning me of the dangers that lurk around every corner of ferry travel. The ferry pulls up next to the dock and people board the ferry by themselves in an orderly fashion. The ferry holds about 100 people and is part of a comprehensive transit system which gave me access to UBahn and SBahn trains, buses and ferries. The cost for a 24hr pass for the entire system was $18 for 3 of us. The ferry boat had one person running it – The ferry boat pilot.


I suggest that if this were Canada you would have an extra person in hi visibility vest on both docks making sure everyone got on the boat without incident, another on the boat doing the same thing. Plus two more people either side collecting the $5 fee to pay for all the extra “help” to make this all work. We call places like Germany “statist” countries but that is not actually the case. If Helmut decides he wants to buy some beer and a bottle of wine at the supermarket whilst getting his groceries he can. If Elke decides she wants to purchase private health insurance coverage for her family – no problem. Drive on the autobahn which are no less crowded or sophisticated than Canadian highways the speed limit is, in some places uncontrolled and in others 150kph, 120kph, 100kph dependent on road conditions. Germans are some of the best drivers that I have come across in the world. See where this is going? We need less government not more.

Getting back to the patios. The whole issue was created by a couple of levels of government poking its nanny state nose where it does not belong. The owners of the establishments are quite capable of making the right decisions on placing a couple of tables and chairs out on the sidewalk for the purpose of a few patrons enjoying a meal and a drink.



9 thoughts on “There never should have been a “Patio Debate”

  1. Well one diference is that kerbside diners in Hamburg aren’t sitting inches away from some f***ing ugly North American monster SUV. One of the guys sitting kerbside in your Collingwood photo looks like he is resting his head on the front grille.

    • Those pictures are actually in Mittenwald a ski resort in southern Bavaria.
      Anonymous you completely missed my point. It should have always been up to the restaurant and coffee shop owners where and how they put a couple tables and chairs out the front of there establishments.

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