An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.
IF YOU WATCHED a TV movie called Love & Where to Find It last week, you’ll have noticed several things.
The first is that it’s one of those corny love stories in which everyone lives happily ever after in a small town. Another is that it was shot entirely in Kamloops, mostly on Victoria Street. You’ll have recognized local coffee shops and restaurants, not to mention Riverside Park and a few other prominent locations.
And, in the background, are the sidewalk patios. Yes, the patios create the quaintness needed for the many street scenes downtown. Without them, the street would have seemed much more bland.
Even though this year’s patio season has barely arrived, there’s already talk about whether the “temporary” patios should be removed or made permanent.
They do take up quite a number of parking spaces, and require pedestrians to zig zag down the sidewalk wherever they appear. But on any given business day, the patios are busy places because Kamloopsians like nothing more than to be outside drinking coffee, eating and yakking.
They’re a pleasant respite from shopping or being holed up in a downtown office, and people love them.
At first, the patios were an attempt to help out coffee shops and restaurants that were being hurt financially by the COVID-19 pandemic. The first year, they were made out of lumber, which was then replaced by bricks. Taxpayers put up $150,000 for the work.
People who had their doubts about them soon became believers. But they were always intended to be temporary. With the pandemic panic over and COVID funding dried up, the City plans to remove them in October.
Making them permanent would require ongoing funding from the City and/ or from the businesses themselves. So, money may be the deciding factor.
Admittedly, some people disapprove, but they’re a bright oasis and there’s no question they’re well worth any slight inconveniences they cause.
I’m Mel Rothenburger, the Armchair Mayor.
Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and a retired newspaper editor. He is a regular contributor to CFJC Today, publishes the ArmchairMayor.ca opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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