British Columbia

Parking spaces give way to patio seating as part of city's pilot project

The City of Vancouver has 14 patios and parklets operating under its three-year Curbside Seating Study, which launched in the spring of 2017.

Even in places like Yaletown, where parking is at a premium, trial patios have been embraced by businesses

The Flying Pig in Yaletown is one of the first restaurants in Vancouver to trial a private curbside patio as part of the city's expanding pilot project. (Tanya Fletcher / CBC)

As Vancouver swelters through an extended heat wave, patio space is at a premium.

Nowhere is that more apparent than Yaletown. Case in point:

Remember the parking controversy about emergency vehicles not being able to fit down narrow streets?

The concern over critical access was curbed with the removal of all parallel parking on Mainland and Hamilton streets.

Now, those old parking spaces have been replaced by a patio in front of the Flying Pig restaurant on Hamilton Street. 

Concern over emergency vehicle access meant parallel parking was removed in the heart of Yaletown. Now, those parking spaces have been replaced by a patio on Hamilton St. (Tanya Fletcher / CBC)

"It's been a long labour of love," said Russ Jahns, spokesperson for the restaurant.

The Flying Pig was the first licensed establishment in Vancouver to partner with the city in its trial project, meaning there were a few kinks to iron out, Jahns said. 

"Was it going to be on the curb or on the street? What kind of requirements do we have? Have wide can it be? What kind of clearance?" 

He said there was a lot of discussion about those precious parking spaces being replaced by a curbside patio.

"The dumpsters on the other side of the street had to be turned to an angle. We did some rejigging to make sure it would all work, and it's more than met all the requirements."​

The City of Vancouver currently has 14 locations operating under its three-year Curbside Seating Study. More than a dozen other businesses are on the wait list to join the program. (Tanya Fletcher / CBC)

Summer heat sparks big demand

The City of Vancouver currently has 14 locations operating under its three-year Curbside Seating Study, which launched in the spring of 2017.

Two of those are private patios, while the other 12 are public parklets.

"The difference is that a parklet is a public space open to everyone, and a patio is one that has full service linked directly to a business." explained Jennifer Sheel with the City of Vancouver.

This illustration from the City of Vancouver explains the difference between its trial public parklets and curbside patios. (City of Vancouver)

Modelled after similar programs in San Francisco, New York City and Montreal, she said it's seen huge success so far.

"The public loves these places and so do the businesses … We have a lot of uptick right now; the biggest challenge is managing the demand."

Sheel said there are 15 other businesses on the wait list to apply for either a public parklet partnership or full-service curbside patio.

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