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. 

4 thoughts on “Sidewalk Life, Sidewalk Patios

  1. I oppose of this 'patio proposition'. The people that come out of that pub late at night are already obstructive with their loud talking/shouting due to 'over' alcohol consumption. The newly renovated Preston Street (4-5 years now) has finally been finished. Waking up to construction noises is one thing but going to bed knowing I have to shut every window in my house is another. Also, there are a lot of young families moving into the neighborhood – don't think its the best idea to have drunken people walking about….I say – keep it inside….

  2. There are A LOT of bylaws about patios. An example of one is that a patio must not be closer than 100 m to any residential property (or something like that). Also, the added taxes that the city will want because of the additional square footage will result in the patio to require intensive usage so that it becomes financially worthwhile to the establishment. Therefore more beer, not brunch.

  3. Lai is right in that half of Pubwells is outside smoking and chatting of the time anyway.To me that means the patio will not have a large impact on the existing noise level.More street life is always better. Having people sitting outside of Pubwells all the time will also deter the local graffiti pests.

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