Licensed patio owners are presenting a united front this week in response to an unforeseen police crackdown on patio closing times.
Between 25 and 30 industry stakeholders met Wednesday morning to discuss last weekend’s enforcement of earlier closing times and decided to stay positive and open to a resolution with police and the bylaw department before the busy Canada Day long weekend gets underway.
They are hoping police will allow them to continue business as usual, which means keeping patios open until 12:30 a.m. with last call at midnight. This has been the unofficial closing time for years even though it’s not technically by the books.
"Closing the patios early goes against everything we’re trying to do by building a guest experience," said patio owner Chris Quinlan of Behind the Grind.
"I understand that the reasoning behind it is they’re trying to combat the noise issues in the village, but the fact is that part of being in a resort is that you have patio experiences for our guests."
The furor over closing times was sparked last weekend after letters were hand-delivered by police to several patio owners.
Lawrence Black, at Black’s Pub, was taken aback by the letter, which outlined that last call is at 10 p.m. for patios and everyone must be inside and all windows closed by 11 p.m.
"All of a sudden out of nowhere there’s a patio issue," said Black.
"I was kind of surprised actually because in all honesty I don’t really see a problem with the patios. It’s a controlled area and when people are on the patios we have control of them. There aren’t noise issues."
Black, along with other patios owners, has been following the "unwritten" rule of patio closing times of 12:30 a.m.
Police Inspector Norm McPhail said those later hours came under review after a police debriefing regarding the May long weekend.
"One of the things that was noticed by the village foot patrol was that the patios appeared to be extending beyond reasonable hours, or at least the hours that were established," said the inspector.
"We’re in the situation right now with some of the owners feeling that they actually have a right to be extended beyond the 11 o’clock time. So we have to back that up (and) deal with it. There’s no interest in terms of writing bylaw infractions for anything that happened in the past but in terms of the future it’s going to be very clearly set out – this is the acceptable time and this is how business will be conducted in the village.