More restaurant patio applications are expected to be filed with the City of Red Deer this spring, even though indoor dining is no longer prohibited.
While most COVID restrictions have been lifted in the province, a lot of restaurateurs have discovered during the pandemic that there are different opportunities to serve the public — and that outdoor dining attracts customers, said Bobbi-Jo Stannard, community development superintendent for the city.
“I think they’re going to continue thinking outside the box,” she added.
The City of Red Deer approved 10 applications for outdoor patios downtown in 2021, although not all were constructed because of pandemic-related uncertainties.
Stannard anticipates 2022 applications could grow as the situation has “stabilized,” somewhat, and restaurant owners generally know what to expect. Outdoor patios can also be sought outside downtown Red Deer, with application forms available on the reddeer.ca website.
Stannard is especially excited about another summer season of musical entertainment on the Ross Street Patio, presented in partnership with the Downtown Business Association. “We have a large slate of programs and opportunities.”
While the Ross Street Patio’s summer performance schedule will really rev up in May, there are still some winter-season performances left, with musician Jaydin Vonkeman playing this Friday, April 1, from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m.
Stannard said several groups have contacted the City of Red Deer, hoping to hold festivals and special events this summer. As these have yet to be confirmed, Stannard, advises checking in with reddeerevents.ca.
Meanwhile, a second-annual Meet the Streets Festival, in collaboration with Centrefest, is being planned for the September long weekend to marry street performance with new mural projects and music.
“We’re hoping to see the public come back to events and gather once again,” said Stannard, noting that 2022 events will be held in larger outdoor spaces with sanitation stations provided, as well as masks for those who want to wear them.
This week, the City of Lacombe also updated its patio policy, allowing restaurants to include bistro tables outside their businesses.
The updated policy clarifies patio spaces must not impede necessary emergency services connections, storm drainage gutters, catch basins, or adjacent building exits.
“Since its inception, the On Street Patio Policy has allowed Lacombe businesses to serve customers through innovative ways that attract new investment to our community,” Lacombe Mayor Grant Creasey said in a release.
“This updated policy will allow more businesses to benefit from outdoor dining options while enhancing the look and feel of our downtown.”