City opens registration for temporary winter patio program

While the temperatures are beginning to drop, Winnipeg’s patio season is not cooling off.

The City of Winnipeg announced it has opened registration for its temporary patio program to eligible businesses hoping to keep the outdoor cocktails flowing during the winter months.

According to a news release, new winter patio registrations will be in effect from Nov. 1 to March 31, 2023, while temporary patio registrations submitted for the summer season will extend until Oct. 31.

The city said businesses that want to participate over winter will need to submit a new registration form and supporting documentation for approval prior to winter operation.

The city has also waived the processing fee for the temporary patio program registration.

Patios for the winter program will have to follow a number of requirements including adding permitted heating sources, adhering to size and material restrictions, and following certain snow removal requirements.

Little Brown Jug Brewing Company opened its first winter patio at its Exchange District tap house in 2021 – a time when the pandemic made outdoor seating necessary, while adding crucial revenue when the hospitality industry was suffering.

Kristin Sheffield, the brewery’s head of corporate operations said they plan to bring in their winter patio once again this year, even though there are no restrictions in effect.

“Even now, I would say it’s an important revenue stream, but absolutely during the pandemic,” she said.

“I think any opportunity that we have to create additional space to serve our customers and our patrons and to give them really positive customer service experiences is very important.”

She said hearty Winnipeggers aren’t deterred by drinking a cold one outside on an even colder day, thanks to bonfires, heaters and some festive winter ambiance.

“The hospitality industry relies on people coming back, and so you need to be able to give them an opportunity so that’s what they want to do,” she explained.

This will be the third time the city has offered winter operation of its temporary patio registration program. A city spokesperson says it was first introduced in May of 2020 for qualified restaurants and businesses as an alternative to the more permanent development and building permit process.

According to the city, four restaurants registered in the 2020/21 season while eight hosted outdoor winter patios the next year.

More information on the winter patio program can be found on the city’s website.

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