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City allowing downtown businesses to expand outdoors

Kingstonians enjoying the patio at Atomica in 2017. Kingstonist file photo.

The City of Kingston is making it easier for downtown businesses to expand outdoors, to allow them more space to ensure physical distancing during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Mayor Bryan Paterson outlined the City’s plan to reduce Princess St. to one lane of traffic during the week, and close it completely to cars on weekends in a video released on Tuesday, May 19, 2020. 

“This will allow more space for pedestrians,” he said, “and would also allow stores to set-up outdoor displays.” 

On Thursday, May 21, 2020, the City also announced a decision to waive both the notice period and final Council approval usually required for restaurants to add or expand patios. The City is also waiving patio permit fees for 2020.

“Once restaurants are allowed to reopen, Patterson said, “this will allow for expanded patio space to ensure physical distancing.”

Mayor Bryan Paterson outlines options for expanding pedestrian access in downtown Kingston.

Paterson noted that cross streets will be kept open to allow space for parking, delivery and curbside pickup. The City is also looking at measures to make Market Square available for business. 

“We’re looking at what could we do to offer Market Square as space for restaurants or businesses that need to change their footprint because of physical distancing,” Paterson told the Kingstonist. 

Paterson said that the Kingston Economic Recovery Team (KERT), which held their first meeting this week, focused largely on how businesses can adapt and change to the “new normal.” 

Paterson said he envisions small retail stores in the downtown and restaurants expanding sidewalk patios “well beyond what they would ordinarily do.”

“That’s the sort of creative thinking we’re looking at,” he said. “It might just take us another few weeks to work out all of the details to make sure that we can do it right.”

City CAO Lanie Hurdle used her delegated authority to waive patio restrictions and fees this week, without input from Council.

Council delegated this authority to CAO Hurdle at its March 24 meeting, as part of the City’s State of Emergency Response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

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