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Council discusses grounds requirement and fee changes for patio seating

Jasper City Council discussed potential changes to the sidewalk seating and retail area expansion program for 2022 at the February 8 plenary meeting.

Complicating matters, explained Mayor Richard Ireland, is the fact that Parks Canada has jurisdiction over land use planning and development, not the municipality.

Therefore, Parks’ expectations of a specific ground that businesses had to comply with in 2022 are not within the control of the municipality.

“I appreciate the tenor of the relationship we have with Parks Canada and our collaboration to make it work for the benefit of our community, and the business sector in particular,” Ireland said.

“But I continue to be somewhat perplexed about the role of the architectural pattern guidelines as they relate to patios, in particular.”

One of the guidelines Parks has established is that “jersey barriers,” concrete barriers used to separate patio seating from roadways, should be removed and replaced with more aesthetically pleasing wooden pedestrian walkways.

Another guideline from Parks explains that pop-up tents should not be allowed on patios.

Umbrellas are permitted but must be neutral in color and contain no logos.

Seeing that the term “guidelines” suggests relaxations are possible – if you can achieve the desired goal in some other way – Ireland said it does not appear Parks is willing to allow any relaxations.

Because of this perceived inflexibility on Parks’ part, Ireland explained that he believes companies should have the ability to appeal under Parks’ architectural grounds guidelines.

“If we can argue for another season of what we’ve had for the past two years while we work out the real rules, I think that would be the solution most likely to move our community forward,” Ireland said. .

Councilors expressed differing views on how to move forward with commercial use of sidewalks and parking lanes in the city center, but generally agreed that any changes to the program should be phased in gradually.

In addition, they agreed that the one-year deadline proposed by Parks and recommended by the administration could create many difficulties for many companies if implemented.

“There is some concern in the business community that funds have been spent in the last year and a one-year phase-out would mean that there would be additional funds that would have to be spent to comply (with the guidelines of Parks motive),” said. Com. Ralph Melnyk.

“I wonder if there is a possibility of a few crossover years to spread out this (additional expense) for business owners as we come out of this COVID period.”

Com. Wendy Hall agreed the increases were too big for one year and would rather prefer the changes to be phased out over three years.

“People are just learning to live with this ‘new normal’. Our retailers, our restaurants, need to know what’s going on so they can hire their staff. There’s already a staff shortage.

Chief executive Bill Given noted that the administration had heard from the business community that clarity around program requirements was needed.

He added that the administration had heard from Parks Canada that greater compliance with the architectural motif requirement would be expected.

The administration is therefore trying to find a balance between the interests of the business community and the expectations of Parks Canada, explained Mr. Given.

The issue of parking in Jasper adds yet another level of complexity to the issue.

Not only is there a shortage relative to the number of residents and visitors, but with the introduction of paid parking in 2021, each parking space has a set monetary value.

The administration has determined the value of each location at $6,624 based on potential revenue from daily hourly rates during the months when paid parking is enforced in Jasper.

If businesses were to use parking spaces, then essentially every space they use would be “rented” from the municipality.

The administration recommends that the fee for each booth be $1,650, or 25% of the determined value.

Com. Kathleen Waxer expressed concern about the increase in fee collections when there was already pressure on small businesses.

“If we needed to add those extra dollars, I wonder if we could revise paid parking to be open year-round rather than putting more pressure on small businesses struggling in this pandemic environment. “, said Waxer.

Ultimately, advisors seemed to agree that $1,650 would be a fair rate in non-COVID times, but as the pandemic continues, businesses would get a 50% reprieve, bringing the suggested rate per stall to $825. , a similar amount to 2021.

Discussions on this will continue in future meetings, as will further consultation with Parks Canada and local businesses.

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