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Temporary patio dining conditions in Didsbury updated

Changes to patio rules came during the Didsbury council's recent regularly scheduled meeting

DIDSBURY — Council has approved a number of updates to the town’s outdoor temporary patio dining rules.

The changes came during the recent regularly scheduled council meeting, held in person and on YouTube.

Council approved the use of temporary outdoor patios in town in Sept. 2021 and that approval was later extended to Dec. 31, 2022.

The move was made to help local businesses hard-hit by COVID-19 restrictions and the resulting decline in customer traffic.

Allowing outdoor patios has “enhanced the vitality and vibrancy of our downtown but we think it would help if we had some clarifications on some things,” said CAO Ethan Gorner.

A number of concerns have surfaced with the patios, including the use of parking spaces, pedestrian traffic and safety for dinners near passing traffic, he said.

During the May 24 council meeting, council instructed administration to engage with patio owners and discuss possible solutions to the concerns.

“The affected businesses were engaged and appreciated the opportunity to provide input,” he said.

“There was understanding of these conditions and support for remedying them. Efforts were also made to some of the current patio operators to further remedy these concerns.”

Administration proposed a number of updates to address the concerns:

  • That the patio size be limited to the space of two parking spaces, if on the street, and three parking spaces if on a private parking lot;
  • That pedestrian walkways not be impeded;
  • And that all patios indemnify the town from all liability with regards to these patios and that the owners assume all liability by signing an agreement with the town to this effect.

Coun. Dorothy Moore, who chaired the June 14 council meeting, said the majority of people she has spoken with are in favour of outdoor patio dining in town. 

“Most of them really appreciate them and like being able to be outside,” she said.

Council passed a motion approving the recommended update conditions.

Temporary permits already issued to patio owners will be updated to include the new conditions, said Gorner.

An upcoming land use bylaw amendment will consider outdoor patio dining, he said.

Fireworks bylaw update in works

Meanwhile, council has given first reading to proposed updates to the town’s fireworks bylaw, and specifically as it relates to so-called display fireworks. 

“This is an update to bring our fireworks bylaw up to date with current provincial regulations,” said Gorner.

Display fireworks are high-hazard and designed for professional use. They can include special-purpose pyrotechnics made for live stage performances and the film and television industry.

In accordance with the federal Explosive Act, the Minister of Natural Resources Canada (NRCan), the person granting a permit or licence to set off fireworks must be trained and receive certification, Gorner said.

“This authority lies with the Didsbury fire chief or their designate, who has received the training,” he said. “Consumers do not need to be certified by NRCan to use consumer fireworks, but a municipality can set out any guidelines for allowing display fireworks.”

The proposed update states that no person shall be “permitted to possess fireworks, firecrackers, fire balls or squibs while within the Town of Didsbury limits without a permit granted by the fire chief or their designate.”

A proposed new section of the bylaw states: “Any person wanting to handle display fireworks must apply for a permit with the fire chief or their designate.”

After giving first reading to the updated bylaw, councillors referred it to the policy and governance committee for further consideration before having it brought back to council for possible second and third reading.