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Mill Street patio made official this week

[Joe Merlihan]

Though the blockades were already in place and the tables set out, the conversion of a portion of Elmira’s Mill Street into an outdoor patio space got official approval from Woolwich councillors Tuesday night.

They also OK’d plans to work out a licensing agreement with the Region of Waterloo to  allow patios alongside regional roads such as Church and Arthur  streets in Elmira.

The Mill Street patio serves as an outdoor area for the Sip ‘N Bite Restaurant. In place since earlier this month, it’ll be an option until October 30 or when the cold weather hits the area.

The township moved quickly to accommodate the request from the restaurant and the Business Improvement Area (BIA) that represents downtown businesses.

“The portion of Mill Street that’s closed is being used for both Sip ‘N Bite and as a communal seating area – so, two patios in one sort of area. The idea originated from conversations with the BIA, downtown businesses, Sip ‘N Bite and other members in the downtown [core],” explained Jenna Morris, Woolwich’s economic development and tourism officer.

“So far, it’s been great. Over the weekend, I had some members of the BIA send me some really great photos of the patio space being settled. So, all good so far. The downtown restaurants have been really excited for this to open, and were really happy that the township went through with it,” she said.

Coun. Murray Martin raised some issues about the patio this week, noting the costs should be borne by the BIA rather than the township, and questioning the aesthetics. He added that he’s heard that some of the surrounding businesses, including the bank and auto parts store, have concerns about cutting off access to their locations.

Morris acknowledged the road closure may have caused extra travel time, as well as some confusion for drivers. There’s also an issue of the space being closed or empty at times due to reduced hours at the Sip ‘N Bite.

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