Council approves downtown patio proposal in principle

Town council has given support in principle to a proposal that would allow outdoor patios at potential new restaurants in Palmerston, as well as other businesses in the municipality’s downtown areas.

The town has worked over the last few years with Gurmit Singh, owner of the former Mac’s Building on Main Street in Palmerston, to “dramatically restore this building which was once a terrible eyesore,” stated CAO Bill White in a Sept. 4 report to council.

 White notes in his report that Singh has made a considerable investment in the property, as well as other properties he owns in Minto.

The town previously provided a $40,000 structural improvement grant toward a $186,000 investment by Singh. The town also facilitated a property launch to attract potential entrepreneurs who wish to work with Singh to grow their own business within his buildings.

Two potential tenants have come forward, notes White, including a Sports bar that would feature Canadian and East Indian food and a café that would feature coffee and ice cream.

“He would like to develop sidewalk patios at these locations next year to increase business opportunity an chance for success,” states the report.

The patios for the Palmerston businesses were originally proposed within parking spaces inside the curbed roadway, and “while this is possible, most communities locate the patio on the sidewalk and re-direct pedestrian traffic around the patio,” White explained.

If the patio is large enough sometimes the pedestrian path is relocated to the parking spaces on the road with appropriate barriers and warnings to protect pedestrians. It was determined that if a patio is licensed it must be immediately adjacent to the building, White added.

The report points out Wellington County approval of the patios will be required as Main Street is under its jurisdiction. “The key thing is to make certain it’s accessible for persons of all abilities,” White told council.

“The patio will create colour and activity at the corner, which may be a distraction, but may also encourage motorists to slow down in the core of Palmerston,” White stated. “There may be some concern with loss of parking spaces in the downtown, but the impact should be minimal and the potential spin-off benefits from the added customer traffic beneficial for all business.

“This is happening all over the place. I think it would be a lot of fun if some of the businesses would carry on with this in Clifford and Harriston and Palmerston.”

Councillor Judy Dirksen expressed concerns a patio on Palmerston’s Main Street could cause visibility issues for motorists coming off side streets.

“The one on Williams Street, I can see that working quite well,” she said.

Deputy mayor Ron Faulkner said, “I would have an issue with the one on Main Street, because of the crosswalk.”

Mayor George Bridge said, “I’m with Bill. You see this all over the place. This is the future and I think to help out businesses, I can see this happening in Harriston, I can see this happening in Clifford in a couple of places … just to expand their seating capacity and help them survive.”

Council gave approval in principle for outdoor patios at 212 Main Street East in Palmerston, subject to the owner submitting plans for consideration in 2019 and complying with municipal provisions and pending approval from the county.