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Hamilton’s expanded patio program could continue through winter

One of Hamilton's most dramatic patio expansions has allowed 10 restaurants to benefit from the closure of a portion of King William St.
One of Hamilton's most dramatic patio expansions has allowed 10 restaurants to benefit from the closure of a portion of King William St. Lisa Polewski / 900 CHML

The viability of extending patio season through the winter is under consideration in Hamilton.

General manager of planning and economic development Jason Thorne says roughly 160 of the city’s restaurants, bars and cafes took advantage of relaxed rules to expand their outdoor seating throughout the summer.

Read more: Hamilton council approves temporary restaurant patios adjacent to residential homes

Thorne says those businesses are now being surveyed to assess the impact of the program, designed to give them a helping hand during the COVID-19 pandemic, and whether they’d keep their expanded patios in place during the colder months ahead.

Thorne says the preliminary feedback is that there is “a lot of interest in at least giving it a try through the winter.”

He adds that through the summer, the feedback indicates that “these patios we’re extremely important to the viability of those businesses.”

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Read more: Hamilton restaurateur approaching Stage 3 reopening with mixed emotions

Thorne acknowledges that winter patios aren’t going to be for everybody, but he stresses “there are things that restaurants can do to make it a little bit more comfortable for patrons to sit outdoors.”

Unless it is extended, the relaxing of zoning standards which have allowed for patios to be extended on to sidewalks, parking lots and laneways will expire on Dec. 31.

Thorne says his analysis of the summer program, and recommendations for 2021, will be presented to city councillors in early October.