The city is making the downtown curbside patios that have become popular with Maple Ridge customers a permanent seasonal feature.
“Patios are one way to invite the community to engage with one another and to enjoy all the best that Maple Ridge has to offer,” said economic development director Tyler Westover, who presented a proposal for a Seasonal Curbside Patio Program to council on Oct. 24.
The city introduced a temporary patio program during the COVID-19 pandemic, and seven companies opened patios in parking spaces, with one business since closing. They are generally located on 224th Street.
Mayor Dan Ruimy presented the program as a contentious issue, and noted that the loss of parking spaces is “not helpful” for some businesses. He called the current situation a “hodgepodge,” where some patios are being well used, while others are not.
Coun. Ahmed Yousef said he grew up around “world-renowned street cafes in Cairo” and said the new program fits in with proposals such as closing the downtown to motor vehicle traffic on Saturdays during the Haney Farmers Market.
“COVID did teach us to be open to doing things differently, and to do so in a nimble and expeditious manner,” said Yousef. “I’m seeing this piece of work as very much in that vein.”
A new formalized program will allow businesses to have curbside, sidewalk, and parklet patios. There will be standardizing patio options and the new policy will address challenges arising from the temporary patio program, including limiting parking and restricting road access.
“Curbside patios have become a fantastic addition to our community, bringing energy to our streets and encouraging economic benefits for local businesses,” said Westover.
“We’re taking what we have learned through the pandemic and some of the best practices that have emerged around B.C. and the country to develop a program that is consistent and equitable for all.”
The city will work with businesses in the coming weeks to remove existing temporary patios that were placed on the roadways during the pandemic. This will increase on-street parking to support retailers during the holiday season and allow for road maintenance. They can later be replaced.
“We support the transition to a formalized patio program as it allows businesses to plan for their season and to keep patios looking well maintained in our community,” said Fiori Chaykowski, executive director of the Downtown Maple Ridge Business Improvement Association. “The BIA appreciates the collaborative and conscientious approach taken in working towards this program and considers the needs of both the hospitality and other businesses we have in our beautiful downtown Maple Ridge.”
The program will run from April 1 through to Oct. 31. Businesses can apply for a seasonal patio when the new program launches at the beginning of February 2024. City staff will work with applicants to assess and determine their specific application requirements.