Sidewalk Life, Sidewalk Patios

One of the key arguments the Preston BIA made for wider sidewalks throughout its territory was to permit sidewalk patios. These enliven the streets, put people on the sidewalks for hours at a time, and promote the sort of spontaneous interactions that make city life enjoyable and that are simply not possible in drive-everywhere-by-car “suburban” lifestyles.

Much of Preston Street is predominately commercial in flavour, especially to the south end. Residences are still scattered amongst the businesses, and upstairs “above the store”.  But in the north end of the street, it is predominantly residential at ground floor and above, with scattered businesses. The planning exercise done over the last decades opted to keep this residential end vs commerical portion in the zoning. There are even some provisions to try to maintain the live-above-the-store nature of the street.

Pubwells is a restuarant-bar (I use the terms loosely, not in a legal descriptive sense) at the corner of Preston and Spruce. It is the last business of the last block of commercial frontages. Most everything north of it is residential. Across the street from it is residential, although the vacant lot will be developed commercial. Pubwells wants to install a front patio. It will not be very large: two rows of tables along the window frontage.

I like the idea of animating the sidewalk. Many of the frequenters of Pubwells are local regulars, from the seniors coop, from adjacent residences, from the commercial zone along City Centre Avenue, etc. Yet I am acutely aware of how intrusive outdoor dining can be, mainly because it is night after night all through summer.

the row of housing across the street

Here is a hierachy of situations:

  • outdoor dining on a roof, back second floor, back yard abutting residential side street – generally against it
  • outdoor dining on a side yard facing the residential side street – proceed only with extreme caution and consideration of what is adjacent
  • outdoor dining on a front sidewalk of a commercial street, even if residential across the street, on the side street, or above: generally in favour of it.