An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.
THE LOGIC OF DOING AWAY with the extended sidewalk patios in front of restaurants and coffee shops escapes me.
Originally intended to soften the blow of COVID by giving the food establishments a few more tables, the patios have become a positive addition to lifestyle.
A survey shows merchants split on the idea of paying fees, and the next City council will have to decide what to do about it.
With provincial COVID funding dried up, the City is contemplating levying hefty permit charges on the eateries for the privilege of having the patios. The reason? Lost parking revenue.
But parking fees were never intended as a revenue stream. The avowed purpose is simply to make sure parking spots aren’t hogged for hours at a time to the detriment of other shoppers and the businesses.
And maintenance on the patios is minimal since they were installed with bricks and concrete barriers to replace the original lumber versions.
The merchants have to apply logic, too. Those who say they’re losing business because people can no longer park directly out front need to consider that their businesses are actually drawing more customers because people enjoy the patios.
As for anyone who complains about not being able to find a parking spot on main street, there’s ample parking just one block away on Seymour Street almost any time night or day. Walk a block; it will do you good.
I’ve also heard a few complaints from pedestrians having to negotiate the zig zag sidewalks created by the patios. Get serious.
The patios have created more friendly streets. We need more friendly on our streets. The patios should stay.
Sure, the sidewalks belong to the City, not the merchants, but if the City insists that it must charge a fee for patios, let it be something small without getting into market value appraisals and huge bureaucracies the way some cities have.
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.