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City overhauls Ottawa's patio rules

Lower fees were welcomed by business owners but strict accessibility rules were less popular.

Stephanie Courtemanche takes a break at a Starbucks patio on Rideau Street.

Emma Jackson/Metro

Stephanie Courtemanche takes a break at a Starbucks patio on Rideau Street.

The city is overhauling its patio rules: reduced fees for businesses but strict guidelines to make sure sidewalks are accessible.

Businesses with patios will be required to pay $27.76 per square metre in the summer and $8.94 per square metre in the winter. But they'll need to ensure that patios don't leave less than two metres' worth of accessible sidewalk for pedestrians. 

On Wednesday, business owners explained how expensive building and planning outdoor space is and asked councillors to give exceptions to long-standing patios. Instead they will be given a year-long grace period to adjust.

“It can be very frustrating trying to get around in a wheelchair if there’s sandwich boards, trees and garbage bins,” said Coun. Jody Mitic. “Patios are great — I love patios — but we need to make our city more accessible.”

Coun. Keith Egli said city staff are willing to work with businesses to find solutions.

“This is a framework and we hope that there has been built in is enough flexibility to allow those discussions to happen and to work on a resolution,” he said.

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