Right-of-Way Patio By-law and Guideline Review

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The Right-of-Way Patio By-law Review will propose permanent amendments to relevant by-laws in advance of the 2023 Patio Season. These amendments will be based on a review of the temporary changes made through the Patio Innovation Program which was first introduced in 2020.

The proposed Urban Design Guidelines for Commercial Patios is a new document that will provide guidance on how to create vibrant and accessible outdoor commercial patio spaces. The Guidelines will encourage commercial patios to be designed to support local economic growth, animate the public realm, foster social connections, and be accessible to everyone.

The Right-of-Way Patio By-law Review will propose permanent amendments to relevant by-laws in advance of the 2023 Patio Season. These amendments will be based on a review of the temporary changes made through the Patio Innovation Program which was first introduced in 2020.

The proposed Urban Design Guidelines for Commercial Patios is a new document that will provide guidance on how to create vibrant and accessible outdoor commercial patio spaces. The Guidelines will encourage commercial patios to be designed to support local economic growth, animate the public realm, foster social connections, and be accessible to everyone.

  • Proposed Right-of-Way Patio By-law Amendments

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    Staff have completed a review of the temporary amendments to the existing Right-of-Way Patio By-law (2017-92) as directed in Council Report ACS2022-PIE-RHU-0005. Staff are proposing the following permanent amendments to the associated by-laws, which are intended to provide consistency and clarity for both patio operators, staff, Council and members of the public.

    The following list highlights proposed amendments to the Right-of-Way Patio By-law:

    To provide consistency, staff are recommending that all Right of Way (ROW) patio permits issued be subject to a closure of 2:00 a.m.

    For the last three years, under the Patio Innovation Program, all Right-of-Way Patios were allowed to remain open until 2:00 a.m. The Patio Innovation Program was developed to support patio operators and address existing by-law inconsistencies, which included varying closure times up to 2:00 a.m. The program aided in creating a consistent and equitable approach and opportunity for patio operators to recover from economic hardship faced by the pandemic, by allowing them to align their business hours with their patio operations. Staff continue to note that the consistent closure time has provided clarity for patio operators and enforcement staff and has been successful due to the associated stepped enforcement strategy. Moving forward, to allow this existing situation to continue, City staff are recommending that the Right-of-Way Patio By-law be revised to permanently allow for a continuation of a 2:00 a.m, closing time for patios in the Right-of-Way. It is also important to note that all patios, regardless of their location (ROW or private property) remain subject to the City’s Noise By-law. In addition to the City’s Noise By-law and the continuation of a stepped enforcement strategy, staff is recommending adding the following changes to the By-law to provide additional clarity:

    • Adding the definition of “Live Music and Entertainment”. This will provide clarity in what is considered live music and entertainment as it was not previously defined.
    • Live Music and Entertainment” means any one or more of any of the following, performed live by one or more persons, whether done for compensation and whether or not admission is charged: (1) musical act (including karaoke); (2) theatrical act (including stand-up comedy); (3) play; (4) revue; (5) dance; (6) magic act; (7) disc jockey; or (8) similar activity.
    • Clarify Section 8 (4) related to patio applications by adding that live music and entertainment are not permitted at any time and no amplified music is permitted to be played on a patio after 11:00 p.m. Amplified music includes outdoor audio speakers on the patio as well as indoor audio speakers and/or indoor live music emitting from inside the establishment onto the patio.
    • Replace “live music” for “live music and entertainment” throughout the document for consistency.

    An applicant to the Café Seating Patio Permit may request an unlimited amount of Café seating patio permits.

    This change will allow business operators to have as many tables as space will allow limited to a depth of one row of tables in addition to providing a minimum 2 metre pedestrian clearway.

    This is a permanent continuation of the changes to the Café Seating introduced under the Patio Innovation Program,

    Adding reference to the Tree Protection By-law No. 2020-340.

    The addition of a reference to the Tree Protection By-law will allow City staff to review at the time of an application, any interference with a City tree and will also address the responsibility for paying and reinstating any City landscaping that is damaged or removed as a result of a patio installation.

    Winter maintenance

    The addition of provisions under the patio application section to address the owners responsibility for maintaining the space around the Right-of-Way patio and ensuring it remains free of snow and ice. Staff also recommend adding language to ensure the patio is not used as winter storage. These changes will allow the City to deliver their operations without interferences and will reduce liability associated with any potential injuries.

    Notification for new patio applications

    Staff are recommending an amendment to the notification process for new patio applications. The proposed recommendation will reduce the notification radius for new patio applications from 90 m to 30 m to bring it in line with the current noise and zoning by-law notification standards.

    The new process will also include notification to the Ward Councillor; a letter to residents and residential property owners within the 30 m radius, the local Business Improvement Area and any local community association registered with the City of Ottawa.

    This process currently does not apply on an annual basis and is only required when a new patio is established in the Right-of-Way. This will be the continued approach.

    Additional By-law Amendment(s):

    Delegation of Authority to close roads in support of patios and public space

    The authority to close roads on a temporary/seasonal basis to support patios and/or public space has been given to the Manager, Right of Way, Heritage and Urban Design on an annual basis through the Patio Innovation Program. Staff are recommending making this authority permanent, by way of amending the relevant by-law(s) to provide delegated authority to the Manager, Right of Way, Heritage and Urban Design, in consultation with the Director or Traffic Services, together with the Director of Roads and Parking Services, to:

    (a) Authorize the temporary closure of segments of any City of Ottawa road. Closures must happen between April 1st to October 31st of each year.

    (b) Request to close a segment of a street must be requested on an annual basis.

    (c) Limit this delegation of authority to only be exercised where there is written request from the Business Improvement Area for the given geographic area, or in the circumstance where a Business Improvement Area does not exist, 2/3 of the business owners on each block segment approve of the road closure as provided o the Manager and Directors listed above.

    (d) The subject temporary closure will provide a benefit to the public realm, to be determined through the review and approval process.

    If you would like to review a copy of the draft by-law, please submit a request to Laureen.DiNardo@ottawa.ca. Further questions or comments can also be shared by email to Laureen.Dinardo@ottawa.ca or submitted here.

  • Proposed Urban Design Guidelines for Commercial Patios

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    The proposed Urban Design Guidelines for Commercial Patios provide guidance on how to create vibrant outdoor commercial patio spaces. The guidelines will be a resource for patio operators who are preparing to apply for temporary patio permits on public property as well as for individuals who are designing or reviewing the design of commercial patios on public or private property.

    The guidelines outline various design options for commercial patios on public property, including Café Seating Patio, Wall-side Patio, Curb-side Patio, Street-side Patio, and a Combined Patio. The guidelines also provide direction for the design details for commercial patios on private and public property. Design details include subjects such as: furniture, partitions, and vegetation.

    There are five design options for commercial patios located on public property. Below is a short description of what each design option is and an accompanying illustration:

    1. Café Seating Patio: A Café Seating Patio is a patio that is located flush against the wall of the associated establishment and provides small-scale café-style seating.




    2. Wall-side Patio: A Wall-side Patio is located on the sidewalk and/or boulevard abutting the associated establishment and allows for a greater capacity than the Café Seating Patio.


    3. Curb-side Patio: A Curb-side Patio is located on the part of the sidewalk and/or boulevard that abuts the roadway.


    4. Street-side Patio: A Street-side Patio is located in a parking space that has been re-purposed in the outer lane of the roadway, in front of or beside the associated establishment.


    5. Combined Patio: A Combined Patio is a patio that is located within two distinct areas within the Right-Of-Way, using previously outlined design options in this document. The example provided in the graphic below is a combination of Wall-side Patio and Street-side Patio.


    Within the Urban Design Guidelines for Commercial Patios there is also a set of design guidelines for commercial patios that may be located on either public or private property. These guidelines address the following topics:

    • Foster Good Neighbour Relations
    • Patio Aesthetics
    • Design Priority Areas
    • Heritage
    • Furniture
    • Umbrellas and Parasols
    • Partitions
    • Lighting
    • Vegetation
    • Non-vegetative Decorative Patio Elements

    An example of a design guideline for the “Furniture” section includes: Use weather-resistant, durable and safe outdoor patio furniture that is intended for outdoor use in Ottawa weather. The use of untreated wood, breakable plastics, and non-waterproof fabrics is discouraged.

    If you would like to review a copy of the draft guidelines, please submit a request to Laureen.DiNardo@ottawa.ca. Further questions or comments can also be shared by email to Laureen.Dinardo@ottawa.ca or submitted here.


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

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    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.

Page last updated: 19 Jan 2023, 10:46 AM