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Tillsonburg extends pop-up patio program

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Temporary outdoor pop-up patios could become permanent fixture in Tillsonburg.

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Town council voted at its Oct. 25 meeting to extend the pop-up patio program, which was due to expire Nov. 1, through the winter and directed staff to prepare a permanent program for council’s consideration.

“The hospitality industry has been brought to its knees during this difficult period beginning in March 2020,” said Mark Renaud, Tillsonburg BIA executive director in a delegation to council on Oct. 25.

“This council has been very supportive of the BIA and its members in surviving and recovering from these impacts. Despite our collective best efforts three of 21 downtown hospitality establishments have closed.”

Renaud said only two of the 18 remaining establishments reported sales at pre-pandemic levels.

“Also of note, this sector has been negatively impacted by a labour shortage, supply chain disruptions, and higher costs for many food ingredients and supplies.”

All of that applies pressure, he said, and even with the recent lifting of capacity restrictions, local restaurants would like to continue offering outdoor dining throughout the winter period.

On behalf of the BIA and its board of management, Renaud asked council to continue allowing outdoor pop-up patios ‘until a permanent program is in place.’

Temporary outdoor pop-up patios have been allowed in communities across the province during the pandemic. Renaud noted Ontario BIA is having discussions with the provincial government and Alcohol and Gaming Commission to “try to make whatever program comes out more seamless, so that it provides an easily adaptable framework.”

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Things to consider include whether or not outdoor patios need to be connected to the building, and if a walkways are allowed between. The idea is to bring the programs together so there is more structure, said Renaud.

“What we have to this point has worked very well, it’s just a matter of coming up with something more permanent.”

Coun. Peter Luciani, noting the BIA patio furniture still set up around town, asked if some would be left out through the winter in support of the pop-up patio program.

“We will be leaving some out,” Renaud nodded. “There will be some benches left.”
It would, however, require a plan to leave clear access for snow removal.

“We will put resources behind making sure that this works,” said Renaud. “People like to sit outside, especially on a nice, bright, sunny day. It might be 0 degrees out or -5 but people are dressed for the winter.”

cabbott@postmedia.com

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