Letter to City Council: Outdoor Seating for Take-Out

May 22, 2020

Thunder Bay City Council
Via email: kpower@thunderbay.ca

Dear Members of Thunder Bay City Council: 


Thunder Bay is fortunate to have an exceptional selection of quality restaurants that typically employ thousands of individuals across our community.  Regretfully, the restaurant sector has been one of the hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic and many operators have been forced to close their doors or reduce operations to take-out and delivery only.  It is anticipated that long-term restrictions on seating capacity will continue to have a negative impact on the viability of many restaurants. 

We have collectively sought the input of dozens of restaurant owners and have heard loud and clear about a need for outdoor seating areas that would allow customers to enjoy local culinary take-out options in an outdoor setting that addresses public health concerns for physical distancing in a socially enjoyable way.   

We are requesting that Council approve temporary changes to required by-laws, permits and/or zoning that will allow Business Improvement Areas, Business Associations, and restaurant operators to identify appropriate locations where city streets, parking lots or privately owned lands can be temporarily converted into shared outdoor dining areas for use through September 30, 2020.  Applicants would be responsible for the management and operation of the approved shared outdoor dining areas, ensuring that they are staffed at all times when open to safeguard proper use, cleaning and physical distancing.  

We recommend that the Pop-Up Patio application process be amended to facilitate timely approvals that address public health requirements, pedestrian safety, accessibility, emergency services, public transit, private access and other issues and that any fees for road closure, traffic management measures and parking meter charges be waived.  We also recommend that the city provide picnic tables at no charge for use in the outdoor dining areas.  All other costs will be borne by the applicants. 

We welcome the opportunity to further discuss these recommendations with Council and City Administration and are hopeful that these recommendations can be approved and set-in-motion within two weeks. 


Charla Robinson
Thunder Bay Chamber of Commerce

Jack Moro  
Westfort Business Association 

Bill Scollie
Fort William BIA

Jim Comuzzi 
Waterfront BIA 

Dina Campbell 
Bay & Algoma Business Association