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Boring concrete barriers jazzed up with art for Calgary’s 2024 patio season

If you head to a Calgary patio this spring or summer, you may notice some vibrant new art in the area.

The City of Calgary selected 21 local artists to paint the concrete barriers used to protect extended outdoor patios and popup patios.

The city uses the painted concrete barriers along with oversized planters for traffic protection and safety along patios and boardwalks on Fourth Street, Bridgeland, 17 Avenue S.W., the Beltline, Kensington and Inglewood.

“Patios are the living room of a city,” said Annie MacInnis, Kensington Business Revitalization Zone (BRZ) executive director, in a Thursday news release.

“These are the places Calgarians spend time, meet friends and socialize in a safe, thriving and vibrant space.

“We have patios in front of businesses, in alleys, behind buildings, in parking lots, on sidewalks, on boardwalks, behind buildings, you name it, we have found ways to support businesses and provide options for Calgarians.”

Katie Allard, a Cree artist and printmaker, is one of the local artists selected to paint the barriers.

“It’s art that’s public and functional,” she said. “As an emerging artist, I am so honoured to be part of this opportunity to create.”

“Not only will it increase my skill set as I have never painted outdoors, but I’m also excited to be able to do something so cool and so visible for the community.”

The City of Calgary selected 21 local artists to paint the concrete barriers used to protect extended outdoor patios and popup patios for 2024. (City of Calgary) Andrew Sedor, who works as the mobility initiative leader for the City of Calgary, says all the patios should be open by the third week of June.

For the fourth year in a row, the city is waving the permit fees for seasonal patios, although fees are set be reinstated for next year, 2025.”

Sedor says 110 restaurants were part of the program in 2023, with a similar number this year.

“Patios add vibrancy, character and connection to our communities,” he said.

It’s a statement Vince Schaeffer, owner of Four Dogs Brewing, agrees with.

He says he’s looking forward to creating a patio for a second season, after adding 16 extra seats outdoors in 2023.

“We have a sidewalk out front and it’s good traffic,” said Schaeffer, whose business is located on First Street S.W.

Calgary Parking collaborates on the seasonal patio program by providing restaurants access to on-street paid parking areas. Last year, about 185 parking spaces were utilized by restaurants as part of the patio program.

Sedor says this year, the city is preparing for drought restrictions by reducing the number of planters by one-third and using more drought-tolerant plants.

For more information on the program you can visit calgary.ca/patios.

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