Your editorial condemning the Plateau’s new policy for sidewalk terraces was error-ridden and ill-informed (« Don’t over-regulate the joy of terraces, » June 7). Clearly, you spoke only with bar and restaurant owners and business groups before writing it.
You claim there were few complaints about last summer’s set-up on St. Laurent Blvd. Tell that to the people in wheelchairs, parents pushing strollers and the many other ordinary pedestrians who bombarded our borough with complaints. They were furious with the set-up approved by the previous Plateau administration in which pedestrians were forced to walk single-file between opening car doors and lamp posts or, often, right out into the traffic, just to get up the street.
You claim requiring owners to put outdoor patios at sidewalk curbs, rather than right next to the restaurant, could endanger patrons and staff. That would be news to dozens of cafes that have long put out such curbside terraces, and the thousands of patrons who have enjoyed them, each summer. Are you aware of a single case in which a patron has been injured? And if curbside terraces are dangerous, surely forcing pedestrians to walk curbside is equally if not more dangerous.
And you say our permit fees are too expensive. We think charging $2 per table per day (or $4 per table for terraces extending right out on to parking spaces) is reasonable, considering the costs these terraces impose on our borough (in terms of extra policing, garbage pickup and lost parking meter revenues) and considering the thousands of dollars a day that bar owners have acknowledged making from these terraces.
You claim that »many » bar and restaurant owners say they will not be opening terraces this year, because of our regulations. Do your editorial writers ever visit the Plateau? If they did, they would see this is simply hot air, as many bar owners have already put out curbside sidewalk terraces, on St. Laurent Blvd. and elsewhere.
Last year’s arrangement on the Main was a trial pilot project that, in light of the many complaints received from pedestrians, did not work. We all recognize the life and energy that terraces bring to commercial streets, but this should not be at the expense of the sidewalk’s principal function, which is for pedestrians.
City Councillor (Mile End)