Councillors who represent Elgin Street and the ByWard Market have asked City of Ottawa staff to study new ways to fit patios onto sidewalks and streets.
One idea is to replace on-street parking spots with a raised patio, while another is to extend the sidewalk onto the street with a temporary boardwalk.
"It goes back to taking the public space and thinking about how to re-portion it so that it's fair for everyone," said Somerset councillor Catherine McKenney.
Patios that extend from a building facade must leave 2.4 metres of public sidewalk space — with some exceptions for a minimum of 1.8 metres, according to the City of Ottawa.
Thomas McVeigh, owner of Share Freehouse on Somerset Street, said there would be enough space for a patio and a full sidewalk if the sidewalk were pushed out into the curb parking area.
"There's a natural piece of real estate right there called 'parking,'" he said. "I think what it comes down to most of the time is that we're prioritizing parking over liveliness of our streets."
McVeigh, who is also the president of the Centretown Citizens Community Association, said pressures for more sidewalk space are especially evident on Elgin Street, where there are parks, a community centre and a major museum.
"There's a lot of reasons why we need wider sidewalks there. It's not just so that people can get to the bars — it's one of our main streets for our community," he said.
The results of the study, requested by McKenney along with Rideau-Vanier councillor Mathieu Fleury, are expected in June.