Pilot pop-up patios may be permanent (Apr. 19)

Pop up patioCity staff have evaluated the pilot “pop-up patio” program in downtown Burlington, deemed it a success and now recommend that the program be permanent, with conditions related to securities, signage and removal.

The recommendations will be considered by the Development & Infrastructure Committee April 19. Read the staff report here: Pop-Up Patios.

Downtown restaurant Test Kitchen operated the first “pop-up” patio downtown on two on-street parking spaces in front of their business from May to October 2015. While the patio was in operation, staff frequently observed that the patio was full of patrons from Monday to Friday during the lunch hour period except for days with inclement weather.

The pop-up patio concept created a buzz in the downtown. Once installed, the patio was heavily used on most days and became a popular lunch destination. The pop-up patio was successful in animating the downtown, added more “feet on the street” and contributed to fulfilling the Prosperity and Vibrancy principles in Core Commitment (Vision for Downtown Burlington).

During the pilot pop-up patio in the summer of 2015, there were no safety incidents nor formal complaints reported to staff.

Future Pop-up Patios

Staff, in conjunction with the Burlington Downtown Business Association (BDBA), has evaluated potential locations for pop-up patios on Brant Street. Using a set of criteria including proximity of a parking space to the associated restaurant, location of utilities, existing sight lines, and more, staff is of the opinion that there are approximately 17 restaurants in the downtown that are able to satisfy the requirements for a pop-up patio.

Staff has identified three issues to be addressed for future pop-up patios:

  • Securities ($1,500) should be collected prior to the operation of the pop-up patio in case any city property is damaged during construction, operation or removal of the pop-up patio;
  • Signage limitations on the exterior of the pop-up patio (e.g. no product advertising); and
  • Requirement for pop-up patio to be removed on date set out in the By-law or else the city’s Roads and Parks Maintenance staff will remove the pop-up patio and invoice the restaurant owner/operator for the removal costs or draw on the securities.

These issues will be incorporated into the revised licensing agreement. The patio owner would also be required to pay for the lost revenue of the parking spaces and have adequate insurance coverage.

Next Steps

Staff is proposing to create a formalized application process for pop-up patios and sidewalk patios beginning in 2017. This process would include a deadline for applications, an internal staff circulation, licensing agreements, application approvals and inspections once the sidewalk and pop-up patios have been built. Staff will bring a report to Council outlining this process by Q4 2016.

Staff have received correspondence from two restaurants that wish to construct a pop-up patio this summer: 370 Brant St (formerly Rude Native) and 455 Brant St (formerly Test Kitchen). A maximum of 10 pop-up patios in the downtown would be considered.

Staff considered not expanding the pop-up patio program, but decided that there are minimal negative impacts associated with the pop-up patio (i.e. loss of two parking spaces during the summer and early fall) and that there are significant benefits to the public realm and downtown vibrancy associated with the pop-up patio.

My Take:

I support making the pilot pop-up patio program permanent (say that fast three times). It added buzz and animation to the downtown, and many residents enjoyed using the patio. Going forward I’d like to see bigger setbacks from the sidewalk for new developments so patios or other public space can be incorporated off-street. That’s something I will raise during the Official Plan and Zoning Bylaw review.

Your Take:

What do you think about on-street patios? Leave a  comment below or email me at

Written by Marianne Meed Ward

A Better Burlington began in 2006 after my neighbours said they felt left out of city decisions, learning about them only after they’d been made.

As journalist for 22 years, I thought “I can do something about that” and a website and newsletter were born. They’ve taken various forms and names over the years, but the intent remains: To let you know what’s happening at City Hall before decisions are made, so you can influence outcomes for A Better Burlington.

The best decisions are made when elected representatives tap the wisdom of our community members, and welcome many different perspectives.This site allows residents to comment and debate with each other; our Commenting Guidelines established in 2016 aim to keep debate respectful.

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  1. Speaking with past employees of Test Kitchen the only reason the patio was busy was that there was no room inside as it was full for the $10 lunch. It was never busy for dinner as other downtown patios were packed full. With the creation of these patios how does the city account for the lost parking spots?

    • Mike, The city charges the patio operator for lost revenue. Overall there is a surplus of parking downtown, especially in this are (Brant Street) and the garage, one block away, is almost never full.

  2. I don’t understand how this is fair to the businesses immediately beside these restaurants, who now lose two prime parking spots right by their business for the whole summer. There is no way that doesn’t lose business for them.

    Also, Test Kitchen left in a sudden manner, leaving employees in the lurch. I am wondering what the new restaurant is that is replacing it and hope it is not the same owners with a “new” business. And as Ken asks, did they pay their fees for this before the bolted?

  3. Bad management on behalf of the test kitchen has nothing to do with it. The point is that patio was packed on good weather days. Why not let other business owners enjoy that opportunity

  4. I’d love to the City take an innovative approach to Brant St and combine pop-up patios with bike lanes and seating between Lakeshore and Caroline. Toronto has done it on Simcoe Street to good effect.

    Elsewhere in the newsletter we’re told that there’s enough parking in the core – if so removing the 20 spaces along that 4 block stretch shouldn’t impact the businesses and would get more traffic into the stores as cyclists make their way up from Spencer Smith. The pizzeria, coffee shops, cupcake place etc. would I’m sure see additional business.

What's your take?

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