Oak Bay council extended the temporary pandemic project that uses parking spaces as extended business space.
This summer the Oak Bay News asked readers what their thoughts were on the pilot project that uses on-street parking to provide patio space for the Penny Farthing and Vis a Vis pub and restaurant in Oak Bay Village.
This is what our readers said.
I live on St. Ann Street and I love having the opportunity to sit in the sun, have a beer, and walk home afterward. I think the patio adds an energy to the village. I hope we see it every summer. In the past, I wouldn’t bother with going for a summer drink as it would require driving, so this is great. For the record, I am 53, married with two teenage daughters. We love Oak Bay.
St. Ann Street, Oak Bay
I completely support the patio and have enjoyed lunch there twice. I even like it when I’m driving or walking by since it adds life to the avenue.
Newport Avenue, Oak Bay
I am very much in favour of the patio on Oak Bay Avenue outside the Penny Farthing and Vis a Vis. I am strongly in favour of measures that make Oak Bay Avenue more welcoming and pedestrian-friendly.
Despite the opposition of some business people to loss of on-street parking, I do not feel that on-street parking makes Oak Bay Avenue more attractive and encourages people to walk around and shop and consume food and beverages. There is lots of off-street parking in Oak Bay, but the sidewalks are too narrow to encourage people to linger and enjoy themselves. Pedestrians have to walk in the street beside the Blethering Place and 4-Cats because the sidewalk is too narrow, especially with two-metre distancing.
Successful communities around the world encourage people to move around and enjoy themselves in urban spaces. Dedicating street space to parking motor vehicles does not enhance the attractiveness of Oak Bay Avenue. Creating patios and walkable areas does.
Monterey Avenue, Oak Bay
There is not enough room left on the sidewalk for safe (COVID-19-cautious) and easy pedestrian use. We often go to browse and shop, but will not shop that block or eat there until it feels safer. Sidewalk tables should be removed so people can stand aside if needed.
I am all for patios, love to sit outside, enjoy the fresh air and the ambience.
However I have read that other businesses on the Avenue across the street were not consulted, and have expressed concern for potential lack of business because of reduced access and parking.
The “Oaks” for instance should have had the same opportunity as the Penny Farthing and Vis a Vis.
If that is the case, I think the plan should be more inclusive, with input and consideration from all businesses in that immediate area. With fall and winter around the corner, will the patios be as viable?
Were it not for the pandemic this might be a good idea. However, if you actually go and check it out when it is busy you will see there is little social distancing. It is a public sidewalk with the public walking through all of the time. When the public walks through they are only a foot or two, if that, from patrons on both sides of the public sidewalk.
Also that red rope that looks like it is to keep people further apart is not there. I’ve never seen it there and I walk down that sidewalk pretty much every day. I walk my dog basically right through the restaurant every day as do many others with their dogs. There is no way to walk around it and maintain any social distancing without walking literally in the middle of the road. I watched an elderly lady with a walker try to get down off the curb to walk in the road last week. No one could help her without getting too close to her. They should have used the entire sidewalk and created a walkway on the road with ramps for wheelchairs and walkers. This was poorly thought out when it comes to social distancing.
You can’t have a public sidewalk used by people with walkers, scooters, wheelchairs and dogs in the middle of a restaurant during a pandemic.
Go down there when it’s busy and see for yourself.
Please let’s keep this option for as long as we can, as well as to add additional space for outdoor seating! We need to have this continued into the fall. In fact, let’s try to have covered outdoor seating for people to gather safely!
Love the vibe it’s creating on the avenue and all businesses could benefit from this approach to community!
Thanks for asking for feedback!
Love the patios. Should be permanent for the Warner months of the year. Can revert to parking in the winter.
I doubt I’d ever want to sit on the street-patio in Oak Bay as I have heard of accidents where a driver hit the gas instead of the brakes in New York, on July 13, 2020, and another one where the driver put her car in drive instead of reverse in Windsor, Ont., Sept. 19, 2019…. and these two hit people sitting in a restaurant street-patio. It happens.
Newport Avenue, Oak Bay
I am writing to convey that I am very much in favour of making the temporary patios in Oak Bay permanent. For the first time in a long time, the village feels “vibrant.” The outdoor seating at cafes in Estevan Village is also very nice.
Vibrant villages was the theme of several councillors during their campaigns. COVID-19 has forced their hands and I’m glad.
I like the notion well enough. People seem to enjoy the setting, it adds to attractiveness or “feel” of the avenue, and it frees up space inside. Regarding COVID-19 separation, though, it does narrow the sidewalk.
I am pleased to respond to your request for input and thank you for providing a community forum on this issue.
Just a few weeks into this experiment—which allows the Penny Farthing Pub in Oak Bay Village to spread out into the public area to increase their safe seating capacity – I’d say it’s working very well. This pub activity animates the street life in Oak Bay Village, supports friendly outdoor interaction between members of the community, accommodates the safe movement of pedestrians and vehicles, and slows down traffic as it passes through this stretch of Oak Bay Avenue. I hope this set-up can continue permanently, and that the same opportunity is extended liberally to other establishments in the municipality.
What has become even more evident during these COVID-19 adjustments is how inadequate sidewalk widths are in and around the Village. For long stretches of Oak Bay Avenue, the sidewalk is far too narrow to allow safe passage of pedestrians, let alone accommodate café space or merchant vending. The Penny Farthing Pub expansion has only been possible by taking some of the roadway out of service.
I encourage Oak Bay Council to prioritize sidewalk expansion in its capital plan to redesign Oak Bay Avenue, from St. Patrick Street to Foul Bay Rd. Removing the equivalent of a traffic lane to do this would prioritize pedestrian amenity and safety, with the added benefit of slowing traffic and making the street safer for everyone: pedestrians, cyclists and drivers. The temporary orange pylons which do this now need to be replaced with proper urban infrastructure that encourage active transportation and social interaction in our community.
I live on the border of Oak Bay and would frequently shop in Oak Bay Village. Since the municipality has allowed on-street patios I can no longer shop in Oak Bay because I cannot find parking. Parking on Oak Bay Avenue has always been limited and the decision by council to eliminate parking stalls has only made this problem worse.
We love the new outdoor patio space created for the Penny Farthing and Vis a Vis.
We hope this remains in place for the foreseeable future!
As a bike rider, I would like the umbrellas on the street to not hang over the barrier. My safe-cycling space has already been reduced and now I have to watch that my head or eye is not taken out by the umbrella spokes, making dangerous swaying into the car lane more likely.
Every time I walk along Oak Bay Avenue I smile when I get to the lovely patios in front of the pub and restaurant. It’s such a welcome addition and makes our community feel “grown up.” All over Europe there are outside patios, it’s time we were able to enjoy this in our own community. I hope this becomes a permanent addition in future.
We think the patio adds a great deal to the vibrancy of the Avenue! In these difficult times it is heartwarming as well as mood-enhancing to see folks having a great time laughing and chatting together. Surely the lack of four parking spaces is far outweighed by the patio’s potential to attract visitors from other parts of Victoria; their presence can only be an advantage to other Avenue businesses. We hope that the enlarged outdoor space can be made permanent.
Barbara and Syd Bulman-Fleming
Hampshire Road, Oak Bay
What they’re saying on Facebook
It’s a gorgeous patio with a tasteful European vibe. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to see Oak Bay Avenue alive with more businesses open on summer evenings with locals strolling and shopping.
Been there for lunch a few times. It has been great!
Love this beautiful Pub!! People are respectful. Never in my life. I sow any alteration. Living here for most of my life. Close to 40 years. ❤️
It’s horrible for literally every other business in the vicinity.
Love it! The only issue I saw is that the traffic drives right up against the barrier. That would make for a very noisy meal. Maybe they could add a privacy shade or something?
Walk area often. No way to keep 6 feet from people if you use the sidewalk between table rows so I walk on the street traffic permitting or cross street before getting to patio then back again if want into a store on that side.
So getting auto fumes from cars and buses not bother anyone? The idea of that has been keeping me away.
I think it’s fabulous!
Would love to be visiting soon but… (triple sad face)