EDMONTON – With somewhat unpredictable weather over the spring and summer months, patio season in Edmonton can be precious. As a result, a new pilot project is hoping to bring more life to the city’s patio season with the installation of urban boardwalks outside some Whyte Avenue establishments.
Julio’s Barrio unveiled its urban boardwalk Wednesday; the first along the busy avenue to do so. General Manager Rob Ferguson says the wooden sidewalk extension allows the business to double its patio capacity.
“The main goal is to bring more of the inside to the outside,” says Ferguson. “Summer is really short in Edmonton, patio season is a real thing here, so we’re just trying to increase the outdoor presence as much as we can and just have more fun.”
The pilot project will allow businesses to keep their urban boardwalks outside until October.
“People have been doing it for a long time in other cities and I think when you travel you see these things so you want to bring it back home,” says Murray Davison, executive director of the Old Strathcona Business Association.
Davison believes the boardwalks will add to the overall vibrancy of Old Strathcona.
“We want to see it active. When you look down the street… and you see it busy, and everybody is walking, you see people out dining, it just draws you to the area.”
While some Whyte Avenue patrons have expressed concerns about a decrease in parking, Davison says 45 extra stalls have been added along 81 Ave.
Several people walking along the popular south Edmonton avenue Wednesday evening thought the new additions were a great idea.
“I think it’s great. It’s fun, it’s a nice atmosphere. We have such a short summer that it’s nice to be outside,” said one Edmontonian.
“They’re really nice. They bring me back to when I used to live on the beach,” added a young man walking along the Ave.
“I think it’s really nice. It adds a nice little community talking aspect to the whole city feel,” added another young man.
Davison says The Next Act Pub, Hudsons Canadian Tap House, Elephant & Castle, and La Shish Taouk are among the other businesses applying for permits to get boardwalks of their own.
Ferguson says Julio’s Barrio customers are already excited about the patio extension.
“It’s kind of bringing a little bit more life to Whyte Ave.”
He hopes to keep the boardwalk set up as long as possible.
“It all depends on when the snow flies.”
The boardwalks have only been approved for 2014. Davison hopes the pilot goes well so it can be extended for years to come.