Al fresco dining and drinking is here to stay. Patio season in Ottawa just got extended through fall and winter, which means locals will be able to socialize outside for months to come. In fact, it’s expected to last right through until Christmas!
Just when residents of O-Town were preparing to say goodbye to the patio season, the city’s mayor stepped up with a new plan.
In a city council meeting on Wednesday, a motion was passed which will see outdoor drinking and dining extended until December 31.
Patio fees for business owners will be waived for the 2020-2021 season and they'll be allowed to add even more tables outside, encouraging venues to continue to offer al fresco services.
Speaking during Wednesday's meeting, Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson explained that the “toolbox is limited” when it comes to helping local businesses survive the upcoming winter.
However, he hopes that allowing patios to remain open will give some bars and restaurants another way to stay open.
The plan comes as many city locations don’t have the indoor space or facilities to accomodate adequate social distancing.
That said, the mayor did acknowledge that Ottawa's brutal winters may make the plan a little harder to execute.
Also thanks to @JimWatsonOttawa for making a strong pitch this morning encouraging Ottawans to keep supporting thei… https://t.co/bF9Ic26s4Y— Wellington West Business Improvement Area (@Wellington West Business Improvement Area)1599661626.0
"Look, I'm realistic,” he explained, “If it's 30 [degrees Celsius] below [zero], you're not going to be having a fine dining experience on a patio, that's for sure."
However, the mayor said that restaurants and bars are encouraged to install propane heaters, which should make the outdoor experience a little more bearable.
In fact, it could be quite cute and cozy!
Watson acknowledged that Ottawa isn’t the best city in the world to explore a winter patio season, thanks to the extreme temperatures, but said this plan might give local restaurants “a fighting chance of surviving.”
With many O-Town businesses already shutting down thanks to the pandemic, a chilly dinner on the patio might be the city’s best shot at saving those that remain.
When the snow inevitably comes, the city has plans to move quicker and more efficiently than ever before.
Watson says that snow banks will be dealt with ASAP, especially in areas that have high foot traffic and curbside pickup areas.
This is expected to include Wellington West, Elgin Street and Bank Street, among others.
Better pull out your warmest coat, Ottawa!