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Patios and parklets program returns to downtown Lethbridge for 2024

Umami Shop in Lethbridge will have a patio for 2024. Umami Shop in Lethbridge will have a patio for 2024.

It's just about patio season in Lethbridge, and the city is once again rolling out its annual patios and parklets program.

Officials say so far, 12 restaurants and bars will be taking advantage of the program, which helps businesses transform streets and sidewalks into spaces for patrons.

Spokesperson Justin Schipper says the program saw instant uptake when it started six years ago.               

"Back in 2018, this patios and parklets program was piloted to see what kind of interest it would get. The pandemic was unfortunate, but it did help boost the program a little bit, it gave it some attention."

Sven Roder, co-owner of Umami Shop, says he has noticed a boost in business once it's warm enough for patios.

"It brings a fresh, modern look to downtown," he said. "People are just looking forward to it. The office workers will probably sit outside and enjoy their lunch, chatting, connecting, networking. It's great!"

It's not just bars and restaurants that benefit from the program; officials say outdoor seating helps to attract people to the downtown.

"(We) definitely see an influx of people coming downtown here," said Ryan Wakeman, general manager of Blanco Cantina.

"People are just walking the streets and seeing what's going on downtown, so we definitely capitalize off of that, and it's great to see more and more people coming downtown."

The City of Lethbridge says it has received some complaints about parking spaces and sidewalk space taken up by the popup patios, but the pros outweigh the cons.

"We have heard some concerns here and there, but most businesses understand that more people on the street, more people sitting and looking around, is giving more exposure to the other businesses on the street too,” Schipper said.

While only 12 restaurants and bars are signed up so far, the city says more patios could be on the way.

Officials are currently reviewing applications for more business eager to have outdoor dining. Top Stories

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