City council voted to reduce patio fees by 10 per cent, as a “good faith gesture” to local businesses on Wednesday.
Restaurants that install patios on city sidewalks are currently required to pay $1.37 per square metre per day. That fee has now been reduced to $1.23.
That flat rate is still higher than the fees charged in Toronto, where businesses pay between $0.14 and $0.57 per square metre per day, depending on the location and type of business, according to a report by city staff presented to council.
City staff are still conducting a review into the fees and expect it to be completed before spring 2015.
Patios are expected to bring in over $600,000 in revenue for the city, according to the report.
City revenue from patios in 2013 was higher than expected, due to an increase in the number permits issued. That was mostly because of patios now being permitted on Elgin Street.
Even with the 10-per cent reduction, city staff say that revenue should be above what was originally forecasted as long as the number of permits hold steady.
This isn’t the first time the city has reduced patio fees.
In 2011 it launched a pilot project that cut fees on Preston Street to 43 per cent of the standard fee, or $0.55 per square metre, per day. Only two new patios were created during the two-year project. One of those the owner applied for – and the city approved – before fees were reduced.
This has left city staff to conclude that “the demand for sidewalk space is inelastic in the majority of downtown areas, and the number of patios will not increase if fees are reduced.”