EDITORIAL – Sure, they take up parking, but sidewalk patios are worth it
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 email@example.com.
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Hey Mel … I was downtown yesterday, and walked a few blocks where the streetside patios are. Just wondering what costs will be required to make them permanent, as they seem fine the way they are?
Taxpayers put up a lot more than $ 150,000 and no public bid was called for their construction by the City. But is it fair (or not) to give up public real estate for the benefit of a few businesses and basically subsidizing their existence? Is it fair (or not) for the City not calling open bidding (and paying stratospheric prices in the meantime) for work on public property? And/or are we only allowed to ask questions pre-approved by the local politburo?
A ‘public bid’ process would be for the city requesting quotes from private businesses to perform the work. Work like these patios were performed by the city themselves, using city designs and city staff and equipment to complete. There was no private company involved, so there would be no bid process. To say the least, if the work was performed by a private company, it would have cost much, much more because … well … a private company would expect a profit.
Of course, you are welcome to complain to Council on spending this money directly,
and show displeasure thru your vote.
The patios were not built by City’s staff. I am 100% sure of that.