City Denies Patio Applications

By Jason Leach
Published October 16, 2007

(this blog entry has been updated)

Raise the Hammer has learned that the city has denied two requests for patios: at Mick's Irish Pub on James North and the Corktown Pub on Young Street.

According to a local resident I spoke with in Corktown, the city sent out their notice of application, and as is usually the case, the only people who replied were a dozen or so residents who didn't like the idea.

We constantly hear about Hamilton infamous red tape and un-friendly treatment of businesses. This is another prime example.

From what I understand, the folks who have renovated and own each of these bars are the same folks who own Slainte Irish Pub on Bowen Street.

Perhaps City Hall would rather have the old Corktown Tavern back (which was a far bigger negative in that neighbourhood than a patio will ever be) along with the divey Gennessee Tavern on James North and the abandoned, boarded-up space at John and Augusta which is being lovingly restored.

In each case, including Slainte, fabulous buildings full of Hamilton history have been restored and brought back to life. Why are we so quick to give millions of dollars to companies that let downtown properties rot like the Connaught Hotel and Lister Block, or enter into lease deals with crummy properties like the City Centre that are an embarrassment to our city?

A group of local pubs comes along and does great work pumping a ton of money into our city and we thank them by rolling out the NIMBY, red-tape carpet.

I'd love to see the owners of these establishments slap up plywood across some of the windows and allow these buildings to fall into disrepair with large notices on the front door directing complaints to City Hall.

Maybe only then when these properties become the constant scene of fires, crime, drug dealing and bricks falling onto city sidewalks will City Hall offer them support.

It's a real shame that our city operates like this. We reward the groups that cost us money and investment while chasing away those who spend their own money to enhance our neighbourhoods and city as a whole.

Slainte and The Corktown are nothing short of absolutely well-run, classy establishments. To deny them a basic patio request that will give local residents a great spot to relax in the summer in perplexing.

It's even more perplexing when you consider the fact that we previously gave patio licenses to the fine folks operating the C.D. Martini Lounge on James North and C.D. Club on Ottawa Street.

Mayor Fred has a lot of work ahead of him if he thinks he can change the culture at City Hall. Clearly, it is still completely screwed up.

Update: this blog entry originally included the soon-to-open Gallaghers Bar at John and Augusta. However, we have learned that their application has not actually been denied. Raise the Hammer regrets the error.

Jason Leach was born and raised in the Hammer and currently lives downtown with his wife and children. You can follow him on twitter.


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By highwater (registered) | Posted October 16, 2007 at 16:43:33

Yet when an outfit called King Paisley Haus applied for a patio license for what is now Saigon Asian at the corner of Paisley and King in Westdale, they received a limited license in spite of receiving the most opposition an LLBO application has ever faced (something in the order of 400 letters and signatures). When it comes to Mac, the city is always willing to accommodate.

Fortunately the license was too limited for the King Paisley Haus gang and they took a pass. I'm all for Euro style outdoor cafes, etc., but the last thing Westdale needed was the massive beer garden they were proposing.

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By peter (anonymous) | Posted October 16, 2007 at 18:03:41

let's not forget that "west town" annex on locke. they were denied a patio and there it sits, empty. among other things, we are now the no patio, no fun city.

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted October 16, 2007 at 18:44:44

boarding up a place as a "punishment" to the city doesn't work since they don't give a crap. they'd rather it become a parking lot.. less work for the city employees in the long run. if only the entire city was nothing but surface parking, they would only have to put in an hour of actual work each year... calling paving companies to come fill potholes.

so sad.

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By young coot (anonymous) | Posted October 17, 2007 at 04:59:49

not to sound like an old coot, but bar patios are not all the inocuous creatures this article makes them out to be anymore. nor are the patrons simply out to relax in the summer. bar patios have become an outdoor extension the the inside atmosphere because of the smoking regulations. i know, i work in bars and i live behind one. things have changed. patios are no longer the quiet summer spot. they are where everyone who smokes heads every twenty minutes or so, year round now and they expect and treat the patio as if it was a part of the space inside. this includes open doors with loud music, yelling and screaming, all of which is fine when contained by walls but soon becomes a huge liability for the residents of any area unlucky enough to host this type of establishment. i like bars and i like patios, but i would never support the opening of another outdoor smokers' room which is what we are really talking about here. and the idea of calling a restriction on a couple of patios as being anti business or anti development by the city is just ridiculous. if this was a couple of drive thrus you could use the same arguements the previous commenters have and they would be just as valid, which is, unfortunately, not at all. there are lots of ways for everybody to make this city a better place without destroying the peace and quiet of residential communities in the process.

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By Frank (registered) | Posted October 17, 2007 at 08:19:11

Hey young coot... if I'm not mistaken, smoking regulations now ban smoking on outdoor public patios unless they are designated strictly as smoker only spaces. Also, it'd be a good idea to check out the atmosphere in the pubs in question before making rulings. Pubs are generally smaller establishments and attract a more select clientelle than bars. Outdoor patios on James North shouldn't be an issue since the neighbourhoods themselves are relatively noisy until late at night. The problem is that people think it's a strictly residential community. It's actually a city...a place where various functions of society take place, not just sleeping. Also, what are the rules and regs with respect to outdoor patios? If the bar you live by is incredibly noisy or boisterous, make a complaint. People applying for new licenses should be given the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps a trial period for the patio along with open sessions of council where residents can bring their issues forward to the owners and city legislators and have them addressed. The lousy owners should never be able to ruin it for those who intend to bring character and an improved atmosphere to our city.

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted October 17, 2007 at 11:40:03

coot, I can see your points however as Frank says, there are specific bylaws in place to address noise issues. The true solution to patio noise problems is through active enforcement of these laws. This means that neighbours should report violations, and the city needs to act on them. Fines should be set in such a manner that it is financially infeasible for bar owners to allow their patios to become rowdy. If necessary, they might have to close the patio after a certain time of day, or not allow drinks on the patio after a certain time, or simply have security on hand that can deal with the area before it gets out of hand.

A pub in the summer without a patio is like death for the owner. It's probably too late in the season now, but if you take a walk down Augusta in the summer, you'll see the patios rammed and the buildings empty... and a place like the corktown can never compete with these places in the summer without a patio.

I agree that a trial system might be appropriate.. or perhaps patio licenses should be issued with a yearly expiry and a small fee to renew. The fee covers the city's administration costs, and each year they look at the number of verified noise violations and decide whether the application goes through. Set a certain limit and if the bar goes over, they lose the license for a year...

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By jason (registered) | Posted October 17, 2007 at 12:03:56

everyone's missing the main point - enforcement IS the issue and that actually requires work from people at city hall. lots of work can be eliminated by simply stamping "NO" across the application. no time wasted enforcing noise bylaws when we can just eliminate the possibility of noise.

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By West end Observer (anonymous) | Posted October 17, 2007 at 23:57:13

And what's with everyone leading off their sentences without upper casing? Maybe we should elimate capital letters altogether. somebody call mchattie and get him on that.

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By ee cummings (anonymous) | Posted October 18, 2007 at 09:30:27

anyone lived in a pretty how town
(with up so floating many bells down)
spring summer autumn winter
he sang his didn't he danced his did

Women and men(both little and small)
cared for anyone not at all
they sowed their isn't they reaped their same
sun moon stars rain

children guessed(but only a few
and down they forgot as up they grew
autumn winter spring summer)
that noone loved him more by more

when by now and tree by leaf
she laughed his joy she cried his grief
bird by snow and stir by still
anyone's any was all to her

someones married their everyones
laughed their cryings and did their dance
(sleep wake hope and then)they
said their nevers they slept their dream

stars rain sun moon
(and only the snow can begin to explain
how children are apt to forget to remember
with up so floating many bells down)

one day anyone died i guess
(and noone stooped to kiss his face)
busy folk buried them side by side
little by little and was by was

all by all and deep by deep
and more by more they dream their sleep
noone and anyone earth by april
wish by spirit and if by yes.

Women and men(both dong and ding)
summer autumn winter spring
reaped their sowing and went their came
sun moon stars rain

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