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Tents allowed for restaurant patios

Justin Melnyk is the president of the Jasper Park Chamber of Commerce and general manager of the Jasper Brewing Co. The Brewpub is currently using umbrellas, but other businesses will be able to use tents for their patios if they choose. | P.Shokeir photo

Peter Shokeir |

Parks Canada will continue to allow tents for patios following outcry from restaurateurs on how this practice wouldn’t be allowed for the 2022 season.

Justin Melnyk, president of the Jasper Park Chamber of Commerce, said he received a letter on May 27 from Superintendent Alan Fehr after meeting with him.

“He acknowledged the fact that businesses are still recovering from COVID and we’d like to move forward with a standard motif in the future,” Melnyk said.

“Hopefully, that will be discussed with the taskforce, the municipality and all the shareholders.”

In an email, Parks Canada said the extension was being granted in recognition that the COVID-19 pandemic had been difficult for businesses and restaurants.

“Parks Canada looks forward to working with the Municipality of Jasper and other key stakeholders on this issue and to reaching an agreement on a set of guidelines that respect the current guidelines and policies and that meet the needs of the town, visitors, and the business community,” the agency stated.

Parks Canada added that a building permit and safety code review are required for any tent more than 10 square metres in size.

Earlier in May, Parks Canada rejected a requested amendment from the municipality to allow tents and canopies for patio seating on sidewalks and parking lanes.

The agency had stated that patio tents were not in keeping with architectural motif guidelines, and that its decision was based, in part, on business community feedback received from the Chamber of Commerce.

Melnyk said he didn’t know why the Chamber’s feedback would be understood as opposition.

“There was no indication from us that we didn’t want tents on the Chamber side,” he added.

“I personally think that the operators should be able to choose, but we have to operate within the rules of the motif and whatnot. The definition of the tent is still unclear from various parties as well.”

Multiple restaurateurs spoke out about the ban on patio tents during a May 17 council meeting.

Melnyk explained how many operators liked tents for their aesthetic and the protection provided from the elements.

“Some operators feel they are safer than umbrellas. They’re secured quite well, and I think the operators that are using tents are very diligent in making sure that tents are safely anchored and going to provide a safe setting for their customers.”

He added how many customers were still uncomfortable sitting in closed settings due to COVID and preferred outdoor seating.

The goal will be to have finalized guidelines for restaurants after the summer is over that will ultimately determine what patios will look like in Jasper.

Melnyk acknowledged the need to work collaboratively with Parks Canada.

“The patios have only been around for a couple years, so everyone is still learning what is best for them and what the public perception of it is,” he said.

“I think tourists love sitting outside and enjoying the mountains. I think residents who maybe didn’t like the patios have come around to liking the experience.”

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