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Chilliwack's Mill Street ready for patio season

Mill Street
Mill Street's soon-to-be competed reconfiguration will allow for sidewalk patios along the downtown street.
— image credit: City of Chilliwack

Excitement is brewing at city hall as the new Mill Street nears completion.

One of the key elements of the reconfigured and upgraded downtown street is a wider west sidewalk to make for a more pedestrian-friendly corridor.

To make way for the wider sidewalk, while maintaining the 18 parking spots—something demanded by Mill Street merchants—the roadway will become one-way northbound.

The expanded walkway will allow for the planting of street trees and the possibility of sidewalk patios.

At Tuesday’s meeting, city council approved a staff recommendation to reduce the normal application fees to $10 for 2014 for so-called encroachment permits to allow for small patios.

Without this reduction, a small patio at 1.5-by-five metres, which would allow for three small tables with two chairs each, would face $670 in fees.

Of that, $400 is a non-refundable application fee, $50 a “council referral fee,” and $120 is the annual fee.

Council agreed that while permitting was important, it should be encouraged and a reduction in fees for 2014 was a good idea.

“The fee schedule may follow the lines of cost recovery but I think this is one of those things where we could look the other way on and help those businesses along,” Coun. Chuck Stam said.

There may be some pushback from businesses elsewhere in the city currently paying the encroachment fees, so council directed staff to take a look at broader exemptions.

“Businesses in downtown Yarrow should be offered the same opportunity,” Stam said.

As for Mill Street, the concrete curb and gutter is now in place and Rod Sanderson, director of transportation,  said road paving is scheduled for Thursday.

Completion for the budgeted $350,000 project is expected in April in time for patio season.

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