Kingston waives patio fees for local businesses: ‘It’s certainly going to help out’

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WATCH: City of Kingston waives patio fees and streamlines application process for businesses – May 21, 2020

Troy Gadbois owns The Pilot House and The Iron Duke on Wellington in Kingston’s downtown core.

While he is serving food for takeout, Gadbois says that just lessens the financial losses.

“Sometimes I feel like those old Garfield cartoons where a cat’s stuck on the screen door, you’re just hanging on,” Gadbois said.

Needless to say, he’s happy the City of Kingston has waived the fees it usually collects for sidewalk patios — something he says amounts to thousands of dollars at both places.

“It’s certainly going to help out, for sure,” he said. “There’s no doubt about that, so it’s certainly very welcomed and personally, I applaud the city for it and I appreciate it.”

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Kingston small business owners do a major rethink during pandemic

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The Toucan has a patio but it’s on private property, so owner Bruce Clark doesn’t pay fees for his patio, but is interested in adding more patio space at the front of the pub.

Along with waiving patio fees, Kingston has also streamlined the process: doing away with the notice period and city council’s final approval for new or expanded patio permits.

The city is also working on a plan to close down portions of Princess Street, the main strip in the downtown core, to pedestrians only and allowing all businesses to use the street and sidewalks.

Clark says he will be investigating to find out more and if it will work for his business.

“I would like to be able to put tables out front and expand my patio as well,” Clark said.

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“I’ll be contacting the mayor myself and try to find out if we’re going to be able to do this.”

READ MORE: Kingston businesses adapting to change during COVID-19 pandemic

Part of what makes Kingston’s downtown attractive is its small, independent businesses and historic architecture.

Small, however, presents a difficulty with the necessity of physical distancing under the threat of COVID-19.

Gadbois says the patio is a must for the Pilot House to have any chance at success in the current climate.

“It’s such a small, intimate location that … we’d have eight people in the place,” he said, “so if we are fortunate enough to get the patio open now, we can have 16 people in the place.”

Ontario food-serving establishments are still waiting for word on when they will be allowed to open for more than takeout and delivery orders.



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