Crews will begin taking down the Ross Street Patio today after council voted against turning it into a year-round gathering spot.
City staff had recommended that the patio be removed this winter to give them more time to look into ways to make it a successful all-season feature.
“We need to make sure if the winter patio is going to go it’s going to be successful,” said city director of planning Kim Fowler.
It would be premature to go ahead now before staff have had a chance to look at options such as having heaters in place or lining up winter-related events at the popular summer hangout.
Fowler said surveys of residents and downtown business owners found a pretty even split on support for a year-round patio.
Coun. Lynne Mulder favoured giving the winter patio a try.
“How do we know if it will work (or not) if we don’t try it?”
Coun. Buck Buchanan also wanted to see the patio given a winter test run after years of talking about the potential to expand its season. It makes no sense to create a public venue only to take it away again each year.
Coun. Tanya Handley expressed concern that the downtown business community’s support was lukewarm.
“These are the people who have to buy into this to make it work.”
Council voted 6-3 in favour of taking the patio out this year and to review it again for 2015.
Coun. Paul Harris, who joined Buchanan and Mulder in voting to keep the patio open, suggested a motion to call on staff to explore the development of a winter strategy that would support the better use of Red Deer’s outdoor recreation and gathering spaces, and that the Ross Street Patio be potentially included in a pilot project.
Before council could vote on the motion, it was tabled for at least a month to get more information on what was expected of city administration.
In other council news:
•Council accepted for information the 2013 Annual Report for the Environmental Master Plan. Also approved were recommendations to set a target to reduce the per capita fuel consumption in the city, which has already been dropping in recent years.
Council also agreed to improve the way the city measures the amount of garbage generated to get a better sense of how much each household creates, and the amount coming from industrial and commercial customers.
•Council approved the terms of reference for a Community Safety Ad-Hoc Committee. The 11-member committee will feature a cross-section of residents to develop safety initiatives that have a community-wide context and positive influence.