Right-of-Way Patio By-law and Guidelines Background

In March 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic and declaration of a State of Emergency in Ontario resulted in the mandatory closure of all non-essential workplaces and businesses. These closures had an immediate and detrimental impact on Ottawa’s economy including a sharp decline in business revenues, employment and economic activity. In response, the city undertook several actions to help inform and guide Ottawa’s economic response and recovery efforts.

The Patio Innovation program was approved by Council in 2020, 2021 and 2022 and included:

  • Temporarily waiving the monthly rates (summer and winter) for right of way (ROW) patios and café seating permits through the City’s annual Budget.
  • Eliminating the cap on the quantity of café seating tables permitted per business.
  • Streamlining the circulation process for new Right of Way (ROW) patio permit applications.
  • Developing a new retail vending program to allow retailers to vend on their business frontages.
  • Partnering with Building Code Services to develop a streamlined system to review inquiries and building permit applications for tents and awnings related to patios.
  • Partnering with Traffic Services to undertake the closure of several city streets as pilot projects to facilitate patio expansions.
  • Funding of a summer student position in By-law and Regulatory Services (BLRS) to support proactive enforcement associated with patios in 2021 and 2022.
  • Amending the Zoning By-law for patios on private property to waive the 30-metre setback requirement from residential zones along with other provisions and introduce a registration and property owner notification system.

As part of the 2022 Patio Innovation Program Report staff were directed to review and report back to Committee and Council with recommendations for permanent amendments to relevant by-laws in advance of the 2023 Patio Season.

In addition to proposed by-law amendments, staff are also introducing new Urban Design Guidelines for Commercial Patio. The Guidelines are intended to support the Right-of-Way Patio By-law and be a resource for the preparation of and review of commercial patio proposals, private property patios, and temporary patio permits on public property. They will assist with the design of development proposals that include a commercial patio on public or private property.

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