A number of Fernie businesses have applied to council for outdoor patio permits, so they are able to offer outdoor seating for their customers.
At the council meeting Monday, the Central Hotel, the Northern Bar and Stage and Loaf Bakery were all applying for permission to use the sidewalks for their patrons.
On warm summer days, outdoor seating will encourage people to come downtown and enjoy a drink or a meal in the sun. This means more revenue for Fernie businesses, which is definitely something council needs to support. It also gives the downtown a better vibe – when people are sitting outside in the sunshine, chatting and enjoying themselves, Fernie is a much more appealing place to be than in winter, when Second Avenue can seem a little like a ghost town after 5 p.m.
Other than the problem of getting around these outdoor seating areas if you are pushing a stroller or in a wheelchair, there is no real argument for not allowing daytime patio areas. It is great for people with kids, not having to struggle in and out of doors with strollers, and dog owners can keep an eye on their best friends while they both enjoy basking in the sun. The problem is at night. For those living downtown, the noise disturbance caused by a big group of people drinking out the front of a bar is very significant. The manager of The Central said they would close the patio area at 10 p.m. and everyone would be told they have to move inside. Hopefully this will be strictly enforced so council can have faith in these businesses, and more will be encouraged to follow their lead. A downtown area buzzing with people out and enjoying the long warm evenings is something we would all like to see in our town. And summer is a harder time for many businesses than winter, with fewer seasonal workers here partying it up in the evenings and supporting businesses. As long as they are managed properly, outdoor patios are a great feature of Fernie’s downtown and a benefit to everyone.