O’Hanlon’s Patio Happening, Just SLOOOO-O-O-O-WLY

city04196066Rumors have been swirling around the Reginan corners of the internet that O’Hanlon’s patio is in some kind of mortal danger. Well, turns out, things aren’t quite as bad as some may have heard.

As we reported last April, O’Hanlon’s has been working to install a permanent patio in front of their building on Scarth Street. When we wrote that story, they’d just arranged to purchase the strip of sidewalk in front of their building for $105,000.

And yet here we are 11 months later and still no patio. What gives? Well, apparently, plans for the patio have been with the city for some number of months now but they still need to get a construction permit. (That’s a pic of those plans laid out on O’Hanlon’s bar at left.)

I spoke with Fred Searle, manager of the development review branch at the city, and he summed up the status of O’Hanlon’s patio plans:

For the last few months we’ve been meeting with the owners of O’Hanlon’s and Copper Kettle to review design plans that they’ve prepared for a permanent patio and outdoor structure to replace the temporary situation they have right now. We’ve been working through that process and we’ve been refining the plan all along. We’re getting to a place where we’re close on design. It’s basically similar to any other planning process where we review plans and it’s an iterative process with the developer. Certainly, we’re getting to the point where we’re refining it to a final design.

As for what exactly they’re refining, Searle said:

From the city’s perspective, we’re excited about the opportunity for a permanent structure at that location and the opportunity that has to future enhance the vibrancy and activity along that portion of Scarth Street.

There’s a couple considerations we have to look at in the review, and one is that it’s within the Victoria Park Heritage Conservation District, and really we’re at the point now where we’re refining details on material treatment. We know what the basic overall form of the patio will take and we’re just refining details on treatment because we want to ensure that it complements heritage buildings in the area, particularly that building but also that it has a good interface with the sidewalk and with the park, that visually you can see into it, you can see the activity going on and it creates the vibrancy along the street that we’re looking for downtown.

Have to say though that it seems tragic that the patio plan has been available for over a year now — like I mentioned above, I saw the plans 11 months ago and I’m just some lowly reporter — and yet we’re just getting to the “refining material treatment” stage now. The Junos are coming up the end of next month and having a fancy patio out in front of one of the anchor venues would be several different kinds of awesome.

I asked Searle about the possibility of getting this done in time for the Junos he replied, “We understand the time pressure the developer is under. Once that permit is submitted we understand that and we’ll do whatever we can to work with them and move it through the process.”

One thing that will speed things along a bit is that the plans just have to go through the permitting process. They don’t have to go before planning commission and council again.

Still, what if it looks like there’s no way to get the permit this year or there is some snag in the construction that keeps O’Hanlon’s from getting this done in time for patio season, could they still set up the same temporary patio they have in years past?

“I think that’s something we could look at and it’s something our traffic operations people would need to approve obviously but that’s always an option,” said Searle.

Of course, it does seem a little odd that O’Hanlon’s patio is being held up over the way it will interface with the heritage character of the O’Hanlon’s building when it will be located just down the street from the City Square Plaza, something that in no way complements the heritage character of Victoria Park and the surrounding buildings in the Heritage Conservation District. Why is the city being a stickler on heritage elements here when they clearly weren’t with their Plaza? And would O’Hanlon’s patio have had an easier time getting a permit if it had been made of concrete and corten steel and lit by lightsabers? I asked Fred Searle about that…

Each application is different. In this particular case, there’s a direct connection of the patio to the building. It’s more of a direct interface. So it’s reviewed on that basis, and its impact on that heritage structure. I think that would be it in a nutshell.

So there you go. O’Hanlon’s will get its permanent patio. And the city is officially enthusiastic about it. Will it get done in time for the Junos? Hard to say. But it looks like a good bet that it’ll be ready for summer.

We’ll have more on this story as details emerge and as soon as interviews with “the other side” are completed.

Author: Paul Dechene

Paul Dechene is 5’10” tall and he was born in a place. He’s not there now. He’s sitting in front of his computer writing his bio for this blog. He has a song stuck in his head. It’s “Girl From Ipanema”, thanks for asking.

You can follow Paul on Twitter at @pauldechene and get live updates during city council meetings and other city events at @PDcityhall.

18 thoughts on “O’Hanlon’s Patio Happening, Just SLOOOO-O-O-O-WLY”

  1. Am I the only one who sees that City Square Plaza (such an inspiring name, by the way) takes its design cues from the Nazi death camps and Soviet gulags?

    It is an abomination that should have been shouted down (angrily) at the proposal stage.

  2. Hey man, lay off! Like Gladys said, this city cares deeply about its heritage aesthetic and will do ANYTHING to preserve it.

  3. @ Death camps may be a bit harsh; I don’t totally mind the plaza, but it came at too high a price, losing the Novia like that, not that, I guess, Harvard had any long term plans to let it stay.

    The one thing that still gets lodged in my throat is the whole bogus line ppl bought, and repeated, about “storefront” cropping up along the plaza, blah blah, to create this vibrant new downtown commercial culture. Storefront to crop up WHERE? There was storefront, it’s now boarded up. Just this morning I passed by old Novia at 6:30, going, “Fuck, as soon as I start working DT they suffocate the place.” Anyway.

  4. Here’s a CBC report that contains some info about a preliminary meeting with a city-appointed board on April 15 to discuss heritage concerns with more deliberation to come later.

  5. Oh come on–The plaza doesn’t look ANYTHING like a death camp or gulag. Have you guys even SEEN death camps or gulags? Totally different! Sheesh.

    The plaza looks like what it is: a multi-use public gathering space/zombie “kill zone”.

  6. I stand by what I said. Take a look at the “sculpture” that obscures the building facades. It’s reminiscent of barbed wire.

    The light stands look like they’re made for hanging, and resemble gulag perimeter posts.

    Then there’s that stage, with the heavy metal gate thing looming overheard. What the hell is that about?

    The design of the plaza is an obscene joke. At the very least, it’s creepy as hell.

  7. The first time I saw the City Square Plaza the word that came to my mind was stark. Not exactly a warm, inviting place to hang out. I obviously don’t get what they were going for there. The pavers look good though.

  8. If an once you can get some restaurant and retail on the north side of the plaza the shortcomings of the plaza will be forgotten.

    As for the patio it is going to be attached to a prominent heritage building.It’s gotta be done right and not look cheap.It should not take as long as it has though.

  9. I do not understand why the City doesn’t care about its people or our opinions.

    If that patio isn’t ready by the time the Junos are on, I sure hope the City gets sued (obstructing commerce!). All they talk about is making money, and here they are dragging their butts on one of the few things going right in downtown. But, THEY LET THE BLACK BUILDING GET RIPPED DOWN IMMEDIATELY.

    Jeebus.

  10. I’ve often fantasized about scrawling “Work Will Set You Free” on the top of that awful metal thing.

  11. I can’t help but think that if the Hills were the ones building this, the planning commission and council would have pushed this through immediately!

  12. In other words… Nail hasn’t thrown enough money at them for this project to move forward at any decent rate

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