LETHBRIDGE, AB – Pubs and restaurants in Lethbridge will be getting a helping hand to expand outdoor seating if they so choose.

City Council voted Tuesday (Apr. 20) to approve $40,000 to provide businesses city-wide with more options for setting up patios and parklets.

Business owners can apply for a 50% matching grant, up to $1,000 for improvement-related costs which include things like furnishings, barriers, heaters, and planters.

Andrew Malcolm, the City’s Downtown Redevelopment Manager, says local eateries have been asking for expanded outdoor seating with 26 permits already granted over the past week alone.

“Through that process we’ve had discussions with those businesses which have inquired about what supports might be there,” Malcolm told City Council. “Based on those engagements this was a pretty good recommendation that would be a happy and good support to lend that helping hand and let businesses know we are here for them.”

Current COVID-19 health restrictions in Alberta don’t allow for indoor dining, however patio seating is OK.

The City of Lethbridge has an Outdoor Patio and Parklet Program in place to expedite permitting and provide technical support to businesses for expanded outdoor seating.

“The recent provincial announcement of COVID-19 restrictions has again limited indoor seating capacities for businesses,” says Councillor Mark Campbell, who brought forward the motion. “Council believes increasing support for this program is an important decision to continue to support our business community.”

The money for this will comes from the Municipal Revenue Stabilization Reserve. This funding will also be retroactive to Jan. 1, 2021, for those Lethbridge businesses who have already added new patios or parklets.

(With files from City of Lethbridge)