While the concern initially was the impact of loss of downtown parking spots, since the patio opened in June, Peddler's and nearby businesses have reported an increase in traffic.
Maureen Luoma, executive director of Downtown Sudbury, told members of the operations committee Monday that a more detailed study of the pilot patio project's impact on nearby businesses will be done at the end of the summer. But so far, it looks good.
“It's anecdotal at this point,” Luoma said. “We'll be pumping that up a little bit for the season-end review.”
Ward 5 Coun. Ron Dupuis agreed, saying from what he's seen, the patios are a hit.
“That patio is one of the most popular spots in the downtown area,” Dupuis said. “It's a tremendous boost to the downtown.
“It's certainly my vision of what my downtown should look like.”
But Ward 2 Coun. Jacques Barbeau wondered how they're dealing with the loss of parking, a chronic complaint when it comes to downtown shopping.
“As long as I've been on council, I've heard nothing but complaints about parking downtown,” Barbeau said. “How are we dealing with those parking complaints?”
Luoma said that while it does seem like Downtown Sudbury is sending mixed messages – asking for more parking on the one hand, while applying to remove some on the other – in reality, the two are separate issues.
“We have received concerns about the loss of parking,” she said.
But the parking solutions they're supporting – such as a downtown parking garage – are long-term, she said. The outdoor patios are steps the city can take to help downtown businesses quickly.
And the relative numbers are small – the Franks patio would take up two parking spaces, while the Townehouse patio would go in a loading zone the bar uses for deliveries on Grey Street, so no parking spots would be lost.
While approving the new patios for this summer, the committee opted to maintain it as a pilot project, rather than make it permanent. That way, they can analyze the impact from this year and create a more detailed policy on how the patio program should work long term.