Winterized patio polarizes

Individuals favour year-round Ross Street patio, Business split evenly

Red Deerians gave a proposed winterized Ross Street Patio a chilly response.

The city’s online survey on a winter patio drew 362 responses from downtown businesses and individuals. The three-week survey closed on Friday.

Of the 282 individuals who responded, only 57 per cent were in favour of keeping a version of the popular patio up in the winter.

Of the 60 businesses that responded, there was a 50 per cent split down the middle. Supporters argued for the patio to host activities such as public fire pits with public sing-alongs and winter festivals.

Others talked about the loss of parking stalls and the cold Alberta winters.

The next step is for the city to put all the information together into a proposal with options before presenting to city council, tentatively on Aug. 19.

Council will decide to keep the patio up, take it down or keep up a smaller version and consider levels of funding for a winter patio.

Jordan Furness, downtown co-ordinator, said the estimated cost for keeping up the patio is between $50,000 and $125,000.

The low end on the scale covers putting the furniture in and ensuring maintenance while the higher end is for more programming.

Furness said the Greater Downtown Action Plan Steering Committee is in support of a winter patio. He said the committee would like to see it become a facility that community groups and residents would book as opposed to the city directing programming.

“If there is support of 50 per cent, then I think it is fair to say to those people: then you need to help us use it instead of the city trying to lead the charge and doing all the programming,” said Furness.

He said they are looking at options to introduce parking where they can to offset the loss of 15 stalls.

The city is currently restoring one stall next to the handicapped one on the west end of the patio. In the coming weeks, there will be two angled parking stalls as opposed to one existing parallel handicapped parking spot. Furness said there were some concerns about loss of a loading space.

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