Beverages, boots and blustering snow.
Winnipeg has decided to allow restaurateurs and bar owners to open temporary patios through the winter — in a city where temperatures sometimes dip as low as -35C.
Temporary patio permits will be available to the city’s hospitality industry from Nov. 1 to March 31, 2021, albeit with some additional restrictions.
“I know one of the concerns in our beautiful, hot summer is the beer gets warm pretty quick — that’s not a problem in Winnipeg in December or January, so we might be able to have some fun in a safe way in the winter months this year,” Mayor Brian Bowman said.
“I’m looking forward to having a cold beer in the snow — with a heater.”
Most of the additional safety requirements are concerned with the use of tents, heaters and snow removal.
For instance, tents under 900 square feet will have to be reviewed and approved by the city, while anything over 900 square feet needs a special event permit.
Electric or propane heaters are allowed, but propane tanks and the heater itself must be outside the tent, and space must be left next to the curb and sidewalk for snow clearing.
Open-air fires aren’t permitted.
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Mark Turner, owner of Amsterdam Tea Room, said he was already planning on asking the city to allow him to keep his patio open later than the typical October closing date.
“Where I’m from back in Scotland, the patios are year in, year out,” Turner said.
“By extending the patio season it gives us more opportunity to develop a patio more, with heat lamps, awnings, umbrellas, to make them more weatherproof.”
Turner said the bar and restaurant industry has had to find ways to adapt to the COVID-19 pandemic, and he’s keen to find a way to keep his patio open throughout the frigid winter.
“I’ll probably be first in line (for a permit),” he said.
The Manitoba Restaurant and Foodservices Association said the industry needs any lifeline it can get.
“Our industry was particularly hard-hit through the pandemic, and some people are just more comfortable with sitting outside. So we are welcoming this and hoping that it helps,” said Megan McIntosh, the association’s operations coordinator.
McIntosh adds they’re pleased to see the patio registration fees have been waived again.
The city expedited the temporary patio registration process in early May to give struggling restaurants and taprooms an opportunity to get back on their feet.
A total of 64 establishments applied for and received the temporary permits, according to the city’s website, however, none of those summer permits will carry over to winter.
New registrations for the winter patio program will open on Oct. 14, 2020.