Thunder Bay

Pop-up patios set to return to Thunder Bay restaurants

Patios will be popping back up at Thunder Bay's bars and restaurants this summer.

Council on Monday voted to continue program this summer

Thunder Bay City Council has voted to continue the city's popular pop-up patio program in 2021. (Matt Prokopchuk / CBC)

Patios will be popping back up at Thunder Bay's bars and restaurants this summer.

Thunder Bay City Council on Monday voted to continue the popular program this summer, an effort to help businesses that have been feeling the impact of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Joel DePeuter, the city's manager of realty services, said interest is already building among Thunder Bay businesses, with the city receiving numerous calls about the program already this year.

"I see this year being busier," he said. "Last year, there was some uncertainty about how long the pandemic might last, and under what conditions restaurants would be able to open, and now we know ... it's going to be an issue for this season, as well."

"We're now aware of the regulations that restaurants will be operating under, and I think we'll see even more patios than we did last year."

In 2020, the city approved 38 pop-up patios, a media release states.

For 2021, the city will continue to expedite applications for the program.

The program will again allow businesses to set up patios in private or municipal parking lots, in the parking lane of streets, or on some sidewalks.

There is also the possibility of street closures to allow for dining areas on streets within business improvement or association areas, the city said.

The city said if a patio meets the city's criteria, it only needs to be registered with the city to be used.

Further, if a business has a liquor licence, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario only requires a letter from the city acknowledging saying the patio is allowed, and the commission will extend the licence onto the patio area for the season.

DePeuter said applications for the program are available now.

More information about the program is available on the city's website.