Temporary Outdoor Patios During COVID-19 Recovery

As the City continues COVID-19 recovery efforts, processes have been implemented to allow for increased and streamlined operations of temporary outdoor patios in 2021 while protecting public safety. The move will allow restaurant and bar operators to expand outdoor business areas to offset limitations on indoor dining under COVID-19 emergency orders. The program will continue in 2021, through to Jan. 1, 2022.

 Patios on Private Property

Staff will be conducting spontaneous inspections to ensure compliance with the requirements outlined below.

Should you propose any modifications to your property that require a building permit, please contact the City’s Building Department

 Patios on City Property

Should you propose any modifications to your existing permitted patio (permanent or temporary), please submit an updated sketch to temporarypatios@stcatharines.ca for staff to review and update your permit.

 

Patios approved prior to COVID-19:

  • Despite existing permits indicating removal is required by October 31, patios are permitted to continue on City property, in accordance with all other permit requirements, until January 1, 2021.
    • The potential for patios to operate beyond this date will be explored and updates will be provided as soon as they are available.
  • Please note, in anticipation of winter weather, it may be beneficial to alter your existing patio setup to minimize risk of damage from snow and ice.
    • For example, existing glass barriers could be removed and replaced with an alternative barrier that is less likely to be damaged by snow and ice.

Patios approved with Temporary Approval due to COVID-19:

  • Patios are permitted to continue on City property, in accordance with all permit requirements, until January 1, 2021.
    • The potential for patios to operate beyond this date will be explored and updates will be provided as soon as they are available.

 Tents and Awnings

A tent or group of tents are exempt from building permits where they are: 

  • Not more than 60-metres-squared in aggregate ground area
  • Not attached to a building
  • Constructed more than three metres from other structures

All tents:

  • Shall be located a minimum 3 m from any building or structure
  • Shall not be attached to a building
  • Smoking and open flame devices (i.e. propane heaters) shall not be used under any tent
  • Shall not project into or within 0.5 m of any live traffic lane
  • Enclosed tents (those with more than 2 sides) will be considered interior space
  • Shall not obstruct sight lines:
    • Be mindful of adjacent traffic lanes and on-street parking
    • Positioning of tents subject to review by the City for the purposes of evaluating potential impact

Multiple tents:

  • Tents installed side-by-side are considered to be one tent and their aggregate areas are used to calculate the area:
    • A separation of three metres between tents is required to delineate separate tents.

Multiple Tents: Aggregate Area Example Diagram

Tents less than 60 metres squared in area or aggregate area:

  • Tents less than 30 metres squared in area or aggregate area:
    • Are not required to be fire retardant
    • Are limited to small pop-up tents used in isolation
    • No heat sources are permitted
  • Tents over 30 metres squared in area or aggregate area:
    • Shall be flame retardant, pass the match flame test in NFPA 705, “Recommended Practice for a Field Flame Test for Textiles and Films” or meet the requirements of CAN/ULC S-109-M, “Standard for Flame Tests of Flame Resistant Fabrics and Film”
    • Shall be in conformance with the Building Code

Tents Not Requiring a Building Permit Example Diagram

Tents greater than 60 metres squared in area or aggregate area:

  • Require a building permit
  • Shall be located a minimum of three metres from any property line
  • The tent will be required to be designed to handle area snow loads as per the Ontario Building Code:
    • The Province recently introduced new sentence 4.1.6.14 into the Ontario Building Code for tents stating that: “Snow removal by mechanical, thermal, manual or other means shall not be used as a rationale to reduce design snow loads.”

Tents Requiring a Building Permit Example Diagram

Any tent, patio, awning and canopy that does not satisfy all requirements for an exemption is required to be erected under the benefit of a building permit. Where a building permit is required, site specific pre-consultation with a Building Official is recommended and may be arranged by calling 905.688.5601 ext. 1600 or via email at pbs@stcatharines.ca

Location Requirements
Ontario Building Code requires tents constructed under the benefit of a building permit to be located at least 3 m away from property lines and all other structures, including buildings on the same property.

Structural Requirements
The structure and all components, connections, and fabric, as applicable, are required to be designed by a professional engineer. The design must be able to resist all snow and wind load requirements.

Fabric, Textile or Film Requirements
All fabric, textile or film, as applicable, is required to be certified to CAN/ULC-S109 Flame Tests of Flame-Resistant Fabrics and Films or NFPA 701 Fire Tests for Flame Propagation. The certification of the fabric must form part of the design documents submitted for permit.

Mechanical Requirements
Tents, awnings and canopies that are intended to be equipped with a fuel fired appliance or heater, as applicable, shall comply with the clearance and ventilation requirements provided by the manufacturer and all applicable standards.

Enclosure Requirements
At least two full sides of the outdoor dining area must be open to the outdoors and must not be substantially blocked by any walls or other impermeable physical barriers as per Provincial legislation. The Ontario Building Code outlines the minimum requirements for all building construction and can be viewed on the Ontario Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing website

 Heaters

 

Portable heating devices, including fueled heating appliances like propane patio heaters, are permitted subject to the following:

  • Heating devices meet federal and provincial safety requirements
  • Heating devices are installed and stored in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions
  • If located on City property (i.e. sidewalk or on-street parking space) heating devices are removed from public property when the patio is not in use

TSSA Guidelines for Safe use of Heaters on Outdoor Patios

Portable heating devices must: 

  • Be certified by CSA / ULC
  • Meet the requirements of TSSA Act 2000²
  • Be designed for outdoor use only
  • Have an anti-tilt feature that automatically shuts off the heater
  • Be free-standing, with a minimum height of 160 cm
  • Table top heating appliances are not permitted

Portable heating devices shall be installed:

  • On a non-combustible solid surface (i.e. not on grass or uneven sidewalk)
  • Out of the wind; wind negatively impacts efficiency and can create a hazard if the unit is blown over
  • With a minimum of one-metre clearance from the base of the unit to any combustible material

Portable heating devices shall NOT be installed:

  • Under fire escapes
  • Within a means of egress or adjacent to an exit
  • Underneath a combustible structure (i.e. canopies, awnings, tents, wood framework)
  • Adjacent to or otherwise obstructing firefighting equipment like fire hydrants or Siamese connections
  • Near or attached to trees, utilities or other street elements
  • If the electrical wires need to placed on the pedestrian clearway

Fueled heating appliances must:

  • Not be stored indoors
  • Have a maximum of one (1) day’s supply of propane stored on site
  • Have a propane tank that does not exceed a single nine-kilogram tank (approximately 10 hours of operation)
  • Not be moved while the flame is open; ensure the gas supply is properly shut off and the unit is cool before relocating
  • Follow all manufacturer safety requirements for the safe transportation, operation and storage of fuel

 Open air burning and cooking

Open air fires and open air cooking fires are prohibited for use. This includes fire pits, wood fired appliances / units or any similar devices.     

Natural gas or propane cooking appliances:

  • Must be designed for outdoor use and must meet all applicable requirements of the Technical Standards and Safety Authority 
  • Must have a minimum three-metres clearance from combustibles and building openings
  • May be used under a fire-retardant tent, if the tent is used only for cooking purposes; no public gathering under the tent where the cooking is taking place is permitted
  • One fire extinguisher with a minimum of a 2A10BC rating must be provided
  • Propane tanks shall not be stored inside a building, on a roof, under, on, or within three metres of any window, air intake, fire-escape, stairway, ramp, or door used as a means of egress from a building

All fire safety requirements are subject to inspection and approval from the St. Catharines Fire Services.

Renewal of 2020 Temporary Patio Approval 

Any patios that were granted a Temporary Patio Approval in 2020 are eligible for renewal for the 2021 season (renewal to expire January 1, 2022).

Patios will be renewed once the following criteria are met:

  • The applicant confirms the plan will remain the same
    • If any revisions are proposed, an updated Site Plan is required and will subject to review and approval by staff (in accordance with the Guidelines)
  • Has a valid business license
  • The landowner (if applicable), authorizes the extension
  • The Certificate of Insurance is valid (if applicable)
  • If the patio extends in front of an adjacent business, that business provides written acknowledgement/authorization (if applicable)

Complete and submit the application / related materials to temporarypatios@stcatharines.ca

Temporary Outdoor Patios Application Process

  1. Determine the size, location, layout and capacity of the proposed patio in accordance with the City's guidelines.
  2. Complete and submit the application / related materials:
  3. City approval:
    • The City will strive to review applications within one week
    • Once staff confirm the submission satisfies all requirements, approval will be granted
    • Approvals will be issued via email and considered effective on the date of approval
  4. Operate the patio in accordance with City approval, AGCO requirements and Provincial Guidelines

 Temporary Outdoor Patio Application Form and Materials

 Temporary Outdoor Patio Guidelines

 All Temporary Patios:
  1. Location: To be located adjacent to the operating business. Extensions in front of neighbouring properties or units may be permitted with the written consent of the neighbouring property owner.
  2. Obstructions: Patios may not obstruct a fire hydrant, fire route, fire department connection, emergency exit or pose other safety risks.
  3. Demarcation: Limits of licensed patios to be readily distinguishable. Appropriate demarcations include decorative fencing, panels, planters, rope, or other alternative deemed suitable by the City. Any perimeter barriers in a front yard or on a street shall have a maximum height of 1.2 metres (4 ft).
  4. Curbside Patio Barriers: Where a patio is proposed immediately adjacent to a traffic lane, drive aisle or active parking area, a perimeter barrier shall be provided, with a minimum setback of 0.5 metres.
  5. Entrance Points: A patio must have at least one opening with a minimum width of 1.1 metres (3.5 ft). Gated entrances are to open outwards from a patio without interfering in municipal sidewalk, accessible path of travel or traffic lanes.
  6. Accessibility: The patio area shall be compliant with Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) standards and shall not obstruct an accessible path of travel. An accessible path of travel from the patio to an accessible washroom shall be provided.
  7. Physical Distancing: Placement of tables and chairs shall provide a minimum 2 metres distance between seating at separate tables in accordance with Provincial COVID-19 orders – including from tables on any neighbouring patios.
  8. Capacity: Licensed Patios shall provide a total area equivalent to a minimum 1.1 metres squared per patron (in accordance with the AGCO)
  9. Business License: A valid business license from the City is required prior to being granted approval for a temporary patio expansion.
Temporary Patios on Private Property
  1. Plantings: Planters and basket are encouraged. Landscaping is not to encroach into any traffic lane or accessible path of travel.
  2. Parking: If a patio is proposed within any private parking area, the need for staff and patrons to cross drive aisles between the business and patio area should be avoided.
  3. Tenants: If the property associated with the proposed patio expansion is leased, the tenant shall obtain written permission from their landlord
Temporary Patios on a Municipal Sidewalk
  1. Clearance: An unobstructed pedestrian clearway of 2.4 m (8 ft) shall be maintained between patio and any physical obstructions, unless otherwise approved by the City.
  2. Curbside Patio Barriers: Where a patio is proposed adjacent to a traffic lane, a perimeter barrier 1.06 m to 1.2 m in height shall be provided, with a minimum setback of 0.5 metres from the curb. Additional physical barriers may also be required to protect the patio space.
  3. Construction: Patio construction is to be portable, to ensure for easy removal. Perimeter fence posts are to be free-standing. Fence posts may be supported on removable plates, which shall not extend beyond the perimeter of the fence and pose no trip hazard to pedestrians. Posts, signs and other features cannot be secured to the municipal sidewalk by use of screws, nails or other fasteners that pierce or otherwise damage the surface of the concrete. 
  4. Signage: To be limited to temporary menu displays at the entrance of the patio, placed so as not to interfere with pedestrian movements. Signage shall not be affixed to the patio perimeter fencing.
  5. Agreement:  The operator shall be required to enter into an Agreement with the City prior to being granted approval for a temporary patio expansion.
Temporary Patios within Public Parking Space
  1. Location: To be located on streets in locations where there is existing on-street parking or surplus pavement width. Patios should be located at least one parking space away from an intersection or driveway. Patios are not permitted in front of a fire hydrant, or in designated accessible parking spaces, and should not obstruct surface drainage or access to public utilities.
  2. Dimensions: Patio to be inset at least 0.5 metres from outside edge of parking space.
  3. Perimeter Barriers: Platform to be enclosed on all sides facing the street or adjacent parking stalls. Barrier shall be open-type construction. Additional road safety measures may be required. Examples of perimeter barriers.
  4. Construction: 
    1. If proposed to be constructed, must be modular construction, to allow for easy installation and removal. To be constructed of wood or composite decking. Platforms to be of sturdy construction and able to bear a load of at least 100 pounds per square foot. 
    2. Posts, signs and other features cannot be secured to the municipal sidewalk by use of screws, nails or other fasteners that pierce or otherwise damage the surface of the concrete. 
    3. Patios must not interrupt surface drainage along the gutter. Deck supports and/or ramp supports should be located such that they provide for a minimum separation of 0.45 metres from the curb face.
  5. Agreement: The operator shall be required to enter into an Agreement with the City prior to being granted approval for a temporary patio expansion.
  6. Signage: To be limited to temporary menu displays at the entrance of the patio, placed so as not to interfere with pedestrian movements. Signage shall not be affixed to the patio perimeter fencing.

 

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