Lacombe city council streamlines outdoor patio approvals to support local business

LACOMBE – Lacombe city council has streamlined the outdoor patio approval process to support local businesses affected by recent provincial public health orders.

Restaurants and other dining establishments in Lacombe have been impacted heavily by orders which prohibit indoor dining. To create more usable space for outdoor dining, council has given the chief administrative officer authority to approve new and expanded patio space on both public and private property.

“City council recognizes public health orders have had an uneven effect on some businesses in our community. These temporary powers will allow those businesses to expand their outdoor dining service in a time of great need,” said Mayor Grant Creasey. “City council will continue to work with our business community to address the current challenges.”

The CAO can now approve extended patios, even those that do not meet the criteria established by the city’s On-Street Patio Policy, which was instituted last summer.

On public property, patios can now be approved on more public spaces than the original policy allows, including green spaces, public plazas, boulevards, and sidewalks.

On private property, the CAO can approve extended patios without the normal notification and processing time – given the owner of the business has the permission of the property owners and tenants affected by the change.

The city’s planning and development division has streamlined their approval process – meaning patios not requiring construction can be approved in as little as one day. Additionally, the city will be waving the typical application and development fees and refunding businesses that have already applied for a patio in 2021.

Each business owner will work with the city’s community economic development manager to ensure their proposed patio is compliant. The manager will also liaise with adjacent businesses prior to final approval to ensure the proposed patio is suitable.

All approved patios must still meet all safety codes and be compliant with public health requirements. Business owners must ensure insurance, AHS and AGLC approvals as required.

The city’s parks department is also taking an inventory of unused or underutilized picnic tables, which businesses can use to expand their patio space at a reduced cost.

“We applaud the city for changes made at (the April 12 council meeting) to simplify the process for patio approval and provide assistance through loaning items to make the spaces comfortable for patrons,” said Monica Bartman, executive director of Lacombe and District Chamber of Commerce.

“Anything that can be done for the hardest-hit businesses in our community will make a difference for their long-term success. We encourage Lacombe residents to continue supporting the local economy as we move through this next closure.”

The proposed changes are temporary, and only in effect for 2021.