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City approves free short-term parking, winter patios to mitigate pandemic impact

Temporary parking in downtown Kingston, June 2020, during an earlier iteration of the City’s pandemic pedestrianization initiative, the Love Kingston Marketplace. Photo: Samantha Butler-Hassan

Kingston City Council has voted unanimously to extend Kingston’s patio season through the winter. At their monthly meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2020, councillors approved recommendations from City staff on a number of measures affecting local businesses.

The goal is to support safe business operation during the continued COVID-19 pandemic, facilitating outdoor service and easy pick-up of online and phone orders. The measures include:

  • Giving Ian Semple, the City’s Director of Transportation Services, authority to create temporary, free, 10-minute parking spaces, effective between Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2020 and Friday, May 21, 2021.
  • Requiring Semple to consult with the Downtown Kingston! BIA to identify appropriate spaces in their area.
  • Allowing for sidewalk patios from Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2020 to Wednesday, Mar. 31, 2021, and waiving the public notice requirement to approve any new sidewalk patios.
  • Giving Luke Follwell, Director of Engineering Services, authority over new and existing sidewalk patio permits until Wednesday, Mar 31, 2021, in consultation with the City’s Legal Services department.
  • Waiving the fees for sidewalk patios until Wednesday, Mar 31, 2021.

Snow clearing, concrete barriers

Councillor Rob Hutchison raised the question of snow clearing and accessibility, noting that he and his colleagues already receive regular calls from constituents when a snowfall covers city streets.

“It makes it difficult for business and customers to get around,” Hutchison said, asking if adding outdoor patios to the mix could further complicate things. “Businesses in particular get vexed about this. I’m just wondering how we’re going to take care of that.”

City staff’s report notes that “staff will work with business owners to address issues of snow clearing and accessibility.” Property owners will
be responsible for snow clearing on their patios and adjacent sidewalks.

Follwell also noted that Engineering Services will be partnering with the Public Works Department to complete patio inspections, and make sure that business owners “are doing their part from a snow removal perspective.”

He also confirmed that the concrete jersey barriers currently in place on Princess and Brock streets will be removed during the first week of December.

Materials & aesthetics

Councillor Robert Kiley asked what types of materials would be permitted for constructing the outdoor patio spaces, specifically concerned about the aesthetics.

“Is there going to be any guidance on what these outdoor patios will look like?” he asked.

Follwell responded that while the sidewalk bylaw does have recommendations and design guidelines, the City’s goal has been to remain as flexible as possible, allowing business owners to respond and adapt quickly in a difficult situation.

“There are specific requirements if they’re going to be enclosed in any way, and heated,” he said. “We will try to facilitate and review aesthetics as well.”

However the short-term patios are not expected to meet the same level of aesthetic as more permanent, long-term structures, he said.

Short-term parking enforcement

Regarding the creation of new, free short-term parking spaces, Councillor Peter Stroud pressed for details about how enforcement will take place.

“I just know there is constant pressure on available parking,” he said.

Sheila Kidd, Commissioner, Transportation & Public Works, replied that the City would enforce these spaces in the same way they currently enforce commercial loading zones. They’ll require new signage, she noted, to facilitate the enforcement. In the case of infractions, tickets will be issued.

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Samantha Butler-Hassan, Local Journalism Initiative

Samantha Butler-Hassan is a staff writer and life-long Kingston resident. She is a news junkie and mom who loves reading and exploring the community. This article has been made possible with the support of the Local Journalism Initiative.

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