As part of the City of Hamilton’s ongoing commitment to supporting economic recovery due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, on May 13, 2020, Hamilton City Council unanimously approved the creation of the Temporary Outdoor Patio Program (formerly Outdoor Dining Districts and merged with On-Street Patio Program). This program will allow eligible local businesses to establish temporary seasonal patios and seating areas on municipal or private property (if current zoning is compliant).
There is no application fee to submit an Temporary Outdoor Patio application, however depending on your requirements, additional applications and fees may be needed. Staff will work with you to share all requirements and help you through the process.
Temporary Outdoor Patios will be permitted in:
- Business Improvement Areas (BIAs)
- Community Improvement Plan Areas (CIPAs)
- Private Property (zoning compliant)
Criteria for Temporary Outdoor Patios
Temporary Outdoor Patios shall:
- be permitted within BIAs, certain municipal property and on private property
- be limited to cafes, restaurants and bars only
- comply with all applicable City of Hamilton By-laws
- adhere to all applicable public health requirements, including an COVID-19 related public health requirements as all as all Provincial Orders
- permit alcohol service or consumption of alcohol with Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) and City of Hamilton approval
- provide proof of commercial general liability insurance ($5 million) coverage endorsed to include the City of Hamilton as additional insured
- be compliant with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA)
- require 2/3 buy-in from all businesses on the affected block(s) through petition if not within a BIA
- require that the applicants be responsible for the management and operation of any approved Temporary Outdoor Patios, including ensuring that they are staffed at all times when open, to ensure proper use, cleaning and physical distancing
- be permitted until October 31, 2022. The applicant is responsible for removal of the patio and returning the space to its original form no later than 7 am on November 1.
Temporary Outdoor Patios shall NOT:
- have any negative impacts with respect to pedestrian safety, accessibility, emergency services, public transit, private accesses, etc.
- change the existing occupancy load of the food service location (as of February 23, 2022)
- permit smoking, pursuant to the Smoke-Free Act and ‘no smoking’ signage shall be posted at the entrance/exit
- permit outdoor food preparation (unless from licensed food trucks, street food vending or ice cream trucks permitted to operate)
- permit the construction of structures with any area greater than 10m2 or the use of tents greater than 60m2
- permit outside amplified music/sound without an approved Noise Exemption Permit (PDF)
- permit obstruction of stormwater flows or block stormwater drains. The Applicant shall be responsible for clearance of any debris or snow and overall maintenance to ensure free flow of water
Construction guidelines and requirements
A Building Permit is required for all on-street patio platform structures except for any platform structure of any area that meets these minimum requirements:
- The floor structure shall be constructed of standard dimension lumber floor joists (ex. 35mm x 190mm (2x8), (35mm x 240mm (2x10) etc.) spaced not more than 406mm on-centre (16” o/c) and bearing directly on suitable ground such that no portion of the floor structure is suspended more than 38mm (1.5”) above grade and the finished floor elevation shall not exceed 355.6mm (14”) from adjacent ground elevation.
- Solid blocking shall be provided between floor joists at a spacing of not more than 5 feet on-centre with a minimum of 1 row of blocking for any joist spans that exceed 5 feet.
- The floor joists shall be fastened to rim joists around the perimeter of the floor structure with a
minimum of four (4) 89mm (3-1/2”) inch-long common spiral nails per joist.
- The floor structure shall be unenclosed, except that a guard with a height of not less than 914mm (36”) but not greater than 1070mm (42”) shall be installed around the perimeter of the floor structure in accordance with the requirements states elsewhere in this document.
- Where there is a difference in height between the platform and the adjacent sidewalk a 1500mm (59”) wide ramp with a maximum slope of 1:8 shall be constructed anywhere along the platform adjacent to the sidewalk as shown on sketch SK-1.
- Except for patio umbrellas, no overhead structures of any kind are permitted including but not limited to any fabric roof coverings, or trellis-type shade structures.
- The owner/operator of the on-street patio is responsible to examine on an annual basis any materials that are proposed to be reused in the construction of the on-street patio for deterioration such as rotting, cracking, splitting, or any other deterioration that may affect the structural integrity and/or performance of the platform or any portion thereof.
- Suitable ground shall mean asphalt or concrete road surfaces or pavements and concrete sidewalks (subject to the approval of the City of Hamilton).
- Guard shall mean a protective barrier, with or without openings through it, that is constructed in accordance with the construction requirements.
- Patio shall be defined as the use of an on-street parking space for a passive seating area for the public or patrons of a business or Business Improvement Area, including some merchant areas, and they can include landscaping materials in conjunction with the minimum building requirements provided.
How to apply for an Temporary Outdoor Patio
- Step 1 - Review the Criteria for Temporary Outdoor Patios and email [email protected] if you have any questions.
- Step 2 - If within a BIA, you will need to submit BIA's written endorsement for the Temporary Outdoor Patio OR if not in a BIA, you will need to speak with neighbouring businesses and get 2/3 to sign off on the Temporary Outdoor Patio (the project team will provide more information).
- Step 3 - If your dining establishment is on private property and you are a tenant (not a landlord or owner). You must complete the Consent of the Owner or Landlord form (PDF, 48 KB) and submit as part of your application.
- Step 4 - Prepare a detailed sketch or site map of the proposed Temporary Outdoor Patio:
- Sketches/maps on municipal property must include dimensions of the patio/dining area, location of entrances/exits from the building and from the patio/dining area, location of any fire department connection and municipal fire hydrant, type of barrier being used.
- Sketches on-street or pedestrian by-pass must be in accordance to SK-1 and SK-2 (PDF, 157 KB) or Pedestrian Bypass SK-3 (PDF, 106 KB). All on-street patios shall have a minimum of 4.5 metres clearance between the street centreline (on a street with a single lane in each direction) and the edge of the patio, if adjacent to a marked bike lane, the traffic clearance will be 0.25 metres from the edge of the bike lane.
- Step 5 - Complete the applicable Temporary Outdoor Patio Application Form:
Once your application has been submitted, a member of our team will contact you within 2 business days to discuss further and identify next steps. Total approval time is 15 business days.
Winterizing temporary patios
There are a number of improvements that businesses can make to their patios to make them more conducive to winter outdoor dining. Here is some information on the most frequently sourced solutions:
Temporary portable heaters do not require any city approvals provided they are not affixed to a building or structure. Use must be in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions and may also be subject to limitations in accordance with the Ontario Fire Code. Open fires or fire pits are not permitted in the urban area. For more information, review the TSSA Heater Safety Guide.
Under the Ontario Building Code, a tent or group of tents is exempt from the requirement to obtain a Building Permit provided that the tent or group of tents are:
- not more than 60 m2 in aggregate ground area,
- not attached to a building, and
- constructed more than 3 metres from other structures.
For tents over 60 m2 in size a Building Permit is required. The tent would be required to be designed to handle area snow loads as per the Ontario Building Code, and it is important to note that “snow removal by mechanical, thermal, manual or other means shall not be used as a rationale to reduce design snow loads”. For tents that require Building Permits, all applicable zoning would have to be met. The City’s Zoning By-law generally treats tents the same as any other structure.
Snow clearance and storage/removal around temporary patios on public property such as sidewalks is the responsibility of the applicants, and must comply with the City of Hamilton’s Snow and Ice By-law No. 03- 296 (PDF, KB), which requires property owners and/or occupants to clear snow and ice from sidewalks adjacent to their property and from roofs that overhang the City sidewalk within 24 hours after the end of a snowfall.
Business Development Officer
Phone: 905-546-2424 ext. 2323
Email: [email protected]
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