Sunday, June 6, 2010

Enough to Drive You to Drink

The debate regarding restaurant patios on Hurontario Street continues to rage on incessantly and it would appear that the people most affected by the potential change in the bylaw are largely being ignored. 
  By all reports the restaurant owners themselves are against it both for practical as well as financial reasons. From the numerous letters being written to the local papers, restaurant patrons also appear to be every bit as focused on wishing to see the patios remain where common sense would dictate, up against the respective restaurant building(s) itself.
  It doesn't take a lot of thought to envision the impracticality of having patios moved away from the restaurant out to the curb.  Wait staff having to dodge pedestrian traffic while manipulating trays of food hot or otherwise is at the very least inconvenient but more importantly represents a very real threat for reduced personal safety and increased liability.  From an aesthetics standpoint, sitting at a patio curbside places you amidst vehicles coming and going, exposes you to increased traffic noise from the street and places you squarely in the middle of a great deal of pedestrian commotion, hardly creating an intimate dining experience. For obvious reasons, Collingwood's own Fire Chief is against the concept.  In contrast I have not heard one reason to support this move that is anywhere as compelling as the reasons against.
This saga has gone on far too long and consumed far too much time of Council and Town staff not to mention legal expenses (apparently $11,000 to date) and consulting costs.  It is the perfect example of a person or group majoring in "minor" things.  What I find absolutely incomprehensiblele however is the fact that for months now, this subject has raged on with decisions being made without the most important information of all being brought to the table, that being what are the requirements and obligations for restaurant patios under Ontario's Alcohol and Gamming Commission?  (AGCO). If I were a member of Council, making an informed decision with respect to this matter, it would be absolutely impossible for me to do so without this crucial information before us.  The very decision itself might very well be made by the stipulations of the AGCO, Provincial legislation that will decidely take precedence over a municipal bylaw no matter how well thought out. 
  It is very unsettling to think about what other matters, bylaws and expenditures etc. are being debated and voted on around the Council table without all the relevant facts, information and legal information being known.  After months of debate, dialogue and anguish amongst downtown restauranteurs, Council have now deferred dealing with the existing bylaw until the governing legislation from the AGCO is brought forth June 14th.  Gee, what a refreshing idea!  It's about time some logic came to the forefront of this debate in terms of knowing in detail what the Province's legislation stipulates regarding patios and the serving of alcoholic beverages.
My predictiction is we will see one of two outcomes.  Patios will remain where they should be up against their respective building(s) or if Council proceeds to move forth against the wishes of the very people being affected we will see patios vanish off Hurontario Street altogether.  Let us know what you think in our current poll.

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Rick relocated to Collingwood from Toronto in 1985 through a transfer with Goodyear Canada. In 1987 Rick was recruited by a major client of Goodyear’s, managing their Canadian business based in Barrie before moving to Chicago in 1992 as Vice President of Sales & Marketing. Upon returning to Canada in 1996, Rick ran an industrial products manufacturing company in Stratford, Ontario. In 1998 Rick returned to Collingwood with his two children. Rick is a licensed real estate Broker with Royal LePAGE Locations North in Collingwood and holds his MVA designation (Market Value Appraiser-Residential). He is an active volunteer in the community serving several years on the Board of Directors with the Collingwood Chamber of Commerce as Treasurer, 6 years on the Board of Directors for the Southern Georgian Bay Association of REALTORS® of which he is the Past President (2008) and currently serves on a committee with the Ontario Real Estate Association. Rick is a diverse executive manager with extensive experience in strategic planning, manufacturing, finance, human resources and quality assurance management.