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Sidewalk seating plans begin

Plans are in the works for businesses to get ready to use the sidewalk or parking spaces outside their premises for seating or product display this year, following a thumbs-up from Parks Canada.

The Planning and Development Advisory Committee (PDAC) recently gave temporary approval of commercial uses of eating establishments, retail and equipment rental on the roads and lanes district from April to October.

On Feb. 19, Pattie Pavlov, executive director for the Jasper Park Chamber of Commerce, and Brett Ireland, one of the original proponents of the initiative last year, met with municipal officials – chief administrative officer Bill Given and bylaw officer Neil Jones – to get the ball rolling.

Pavlov said in a text that the meeting on the 19th provided “an opportunity to have a close look at the first year of the program including concerns and comments.”

“We also looked at recommendations and could see overlap in the comments and concerns,” she said, adding that more research will be done to finesse the plan.

“The timeline is a mixed bag,” added Ireland, who is also co-founder of the Jasper Brewing Company.

“I don’t think it’s as much of an uphill battle as it was last year. People have had the chance to experience (it) and there’s feedback. I’m optimistic for sure, but we’re still in challenging times.”

Plans are in the early stage, he said, but added the meeting was productive.

“It gave us a good picture of last year’s program and how we can take into account that, plus recommendations from PDAC,” Ireland said. “I’m excited about the prospects.”

In addition to providing more space, the project allows for a “more comfortable environment,” Ireland said, and there’s more room in that format, for displaying items outside.

“I really want to see as many businesses as possible participate.”

Another positive in 2021 is the opening of Whistlers Campground, which Parks Canada estimated will occur in the spring.

“We are very excited about that,” Ireland said. “I suspect that it will be a full campground this year.”

Given said in an email that the Feb. 19 meeting “was a preliminary working meeting where no decisions were made.”

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“I’m excited that the muni and Chamber of Commerce are working closely together to find a safe, attractive and sustainable way to approach the expanded use of outdoor spaces for commercial use in 2021,” he said. “Any decisions or recommendations will likely first be made public at a public council meeting.”
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