Town Council Approves Winter Outdoor Dining
On Monday night’s Committee of the Whole meeting in Smiths Falls, Director of Corporate Services Kerry Costello presented a report recommending that council extend the patio season from its current end-date, Oct 31, to Dec 31, as part of the Mayor’s Task Force on Economic Recovery. The report includes winter provisions, whereby business owners must ensure their patios are free of snow and ice, safely maintained, and surrounded by a 1.2 metre wheel buffer if placed in a parking space. The council members showed strong support in favour of extending the patio season to December 31, due to indoor dining restrictions caused by Covid-19. Councillor Allen suggested “if this pandemic continues, maybe we should look at extending [patio season].” Mayor Pankow agreed, asking if town councillors would consider allowing restaurants to keep their patios open into 2021 beyond the proposed cutoff. CAO Morris pointed out the additional costs this would incur, such as accumulated snow removal etc. Councillor Alford voiced her agreement with an extension into 2021, with the provision that maintenance requirements be adapted seasonally. Councillor McGuire suggested that, considering the investments business owners would need to make in order to create comfortable outdoor dining, Smiths Falls could serve businesses best by extending the patio season all the way to Dec 2021. Councillor Dwyer added that this could be a great opportunity for a reimagining of the outdoor dining experience during winter. CAO Morris suggested that patios should operate under the usual summer restrictions until Nov 30, and operate under winter provisions from Dec 1 to March 31.
No paved pathway along Riverdale; Councillors Frustrated
Troy Dunlop, Director of Public Works and Utilities, presented the Ontario Commuter Cycling Program Report, proposing that council amend its use of grant funding which had originally been planned to pave a bicycle trail along the Rideau Canal from Beckwith Street to Broadview Avenue. Many town councillors expressed their frustration with Parks Canada, which backed out of this planned partnership. Smiths Falls invested almost $10 000 in an archaeological assessment required for this plan before Parks Canada announced they could not support paving an asphalt path along the Canal. (The assessment found no reason why an asphalt path should not be built.) Councillor Brennan pointed out that many paved biking trails line the Rideau in other places, and Councillor Dwyer added that an asphalt path currently runs along the canal, leading directly to the proposed pathway. Councillor McGuire seemed fed up, and eloquently expressed his disappointment. “I’m really frustrated with Parks Canada,” he said, “They’ve got vacant buildings with boarded up windows. They evicted the [Victoria] campground before completing consultation, let alone the visioning exercise that somehow also applies to this project. First they backtracked on the archaeological assessment, and now they’ve left us with this $10 000 bill … I think as a stakeholder they’re not coming to the table. I would like to see our council apply more pressure to them … and I would like to see a representative from Parks Canada come to council so they’re accountable to these decisions and they start engaging with the residents of Smiths Falls.” Hear hear!
The Commuter Cycling Program will move ahead with the location of a biking path to be decided at a later date.