Never give up! Never surrender!

There is an interesting story in the Ottawa Citizen about this woman who thought it would be nice to add a table and two chairs in front of her coffee shop for people to sit down and enjoy the city on a nice sunny day. She's had her little set up for quite some time now. However, apparently someone recently got coffee spilled on him or her while walking next to the table (aww...poor baby!) so that person complained to the city (are you kidding me !?), so the city made her remove the furniture from the sidewalk. I kid you not!

Then I went on and read that it's because she didn't have a permit and she can have her little eating area if she gets a permit, which should cost her around 250$. So she decided she won't apply for it. I don't get it. Yes, it's petty and it doesn't really do anything for the person who complained, but it seems like it's more about being right than doing the right thing. So even though they both know it's beneficial to have a table and chairs there, the solution is to take away the table and chairs. Am I missing something?

Stories like that are what makes Ottawa boring and somewhat backwards compared popular cities around the world. People are too complaisant. They give up way too easily. You have to work to get what you want. Never give up, never surrender. It's cheesy but appropriate. You can complain about rules all you want, ultimately you need to take action to make things better. Is it really that big a deal to require a permit?

Having an outdoor patio is such an important part of a city, both for the tourists and the people who live there. There were so many of them in Ibiza. Even Pizza Hut and McDonalds had them! Hopefully the owner of that coffee shop in Ottawa changes her mind, gets that permit and gets those chairs and table back there soon. I know it's totally unrelated to the poor baby who got coffee on his/her clothes, but it's worth it.

Here's some inspiration from Ibiza


  1. The funny part of this story is that someone complained to the city because they got coffee spilled on them. Never in million years would I think to call city hall if someone spilled coffee on me. I wonder what would happen if you tried that in New York City.
    It's doubly funny that the city let's people protest and block wellinngton for days, but if you have a unpermitted patio. wooah watch out. The city is gonna bring the by-law PAIN TRAIN! (it's like the o-train only on-time and doesn't smell)
    Anyways the city should extend a olive branch and say in exchange for using the photo of her restaurant in the tourism promo she can have a permit for her two chairs and one table. With all the money Larry wastes, whats 250$? :)

  2. WOw...are you serious?!1 Only in Ottawa!

  3. It's a fine line that is being balanced on this issue. Cities do need some reasonable regulation of sidewalk space, but it could be made much more permissive (ie, you can have a patio area adjacent to your shop's frontage, provided that there is a given amount of right-of-way on the sidewalk that is not being blocked), but there is a reason for some of these regulations.

    I think the thing the City should have done is told the person to get a license in a certain period, and there will be no fine. We do need more patios and street life in this city, without a doubt. However, I have to say the owner's response was a bit of a whiny "if I can't have the game played my way, I won't play at all" disappointment. Kvetch all you like about the rules being unjust, but it's not exactly a surprise that they are there. Every city in North America has them. Clearly she doesn't think a patio space so important, now that she may have to license it.


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