City of Hamilton amends bylaw to make way for more patios


During an emergency council meeting Tuesday (July 7), councillors voted to amend a bylaw that will temporarily allow more food and drink establishments to operate outdoor patios on sidewalks and parking spaces.

In a response to provincially mandated business closures due to COVID-19, Ward 2 councillor Jason Farr introduced a motion that would allow for restaurants and bars to expand their footprint into parking lots and sidewalks to allow for more customers in a physically distanced manner.

So far, City staff says they have received 117 applications for the program; 80 have been approved, 27 are still under review and 10 have been rejected.

Most of the 10 who were rejected were unable to take advantage of the city's original patio program due to the proximity to residential properties.

Hamilton's current zoning bylaws do not allow for commercial patios to abut residentially zoned land.

At the emergency meeting on Tuesday, Ward 4 councillor Sam Merulla introduced a motion that would temporarily lift some of the zoning bylaw's restrictions that would allow for businesses who have previously applied to open a makeshift patio but were denied because of the zoning issue.

Corktown Pub, one of Hamilton's most legendary watering holes, has long been immersed in a well-documented battle to build an outdoor space -- even before COVID-19.

This zoning bylaw amendment clears the way for them to move forward with a patio.

Ward 2 councillor Jason Farr spoke directly to the pub's owner when offering his remarks on Tuesday's motion.

"It's [The Corktown] has always been an oddity in that it's surrounded by residential properties," he said, adding that roughly half of the bar's neighbours have historically been opposed to a patio on the property.

"This is your shot," he said. "Now is your chance. I'm hoping after this those who are opposed will no longer be."

The motion passed with a vote of 13 in favour, two absent and one abstaining.

The bylaw amendment will go into effect August 21, but enforcement will be suspended until that time and will remain in effect until Dec. 31.

Businesses will still have to apply for their patio, even those who were previously rejected.

To apply, businesses can do so right on the City's website here.

-- Photo courtesy Corktown Pub’s Facebook page

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