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New patio policy loosens restrictions on Alberta bars and restaurants

Click to play video: 'New patio policy loosens restrictions on Alberta bars and restaurants' New patio policy loosens restrictions on Alberta bars and restaurants
WATCH ABOVE: Calgarians love their patios and there could soon be more options. The province announced on Sunday that it is relaxing its rules for the bar and restaurant industry, which will make it easier to add, expand or renovate outdoor spaces. Jill Croteau reports – Jul 9, 2017

The Alberta government says a new policy allows restaurants and bars greater control over their patios.

The new patio rules mean restaurant and bar owners will determine a patio’s size, design, where customers enter and exit, and defines how sidewalk patios can be opened and operated.

READ MORE: Urban boardwalk patio extensions unveiled along Whyte Avenue

The government said the new policy allows venues to take advantage of the unique character of their buildings.

“Albertans enjoy the outdoors and patios are great meeting places for Albertans to enjoy themselves. They make our neighbourhoods welcoming and vibrant,” Finance Minister Joe Ceci said.

“This policy makes life better for businesses and patrons alike by allowing for types of patios that recognize the unique character of the building, neighbourhood and customers.”

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Businesses previously had to build a three-foot-high enclosure to operate a patio, but under the new policy, they can place items like planters or furniture to separate their patio from the surrounding area.

LISTEN: The AGLC explains changes to the policy around restaurant patios

READ MORE: Alberta eases rules regarding restaurant patios

The government said the change is intended to create “a more visually appealing experience for customers” and reduce the cost for businesses.

“Patio season may be short, but it can be an important part of attracting business during the summer months,” Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission (AGLC) CEO Alain Maisonneuve said.

“We have cut the red tape that establishments were experiencing. In short, patio policy is now less prescriptive.”

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The AGLC said the policy changes fit its mandate to allow Alberta’s liquor industry to operate effectively, with integrity and in a socially responsible manner.

Last year, the AGLC allowed Alberta restaurants and bars to serve alcohol past midnight on patios after the elimination of the “patio hours” policy, which restricted liquor service on patios.

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