The Rise of Sidewalk Patios in Calgary

How the pandemic-induced proliferation of sidewalk patios has created more vibrant communities.

Illustration by Tyler Lemermeyer

The COVID-19 pandemic hindered our ability to go out and interact with others. It also had us reconsidering how we can safely engage in social activity. With restrictions on indoor gatherings in restaurants and bars, the focus turned outward. The City loosened restrictions on sidewalk and streetside patios, and saw an increase almost overnight in the numbers of these outdoor gathering spaces.

What started as DIY patios cordoned off with pylons and plastic fences on streets and sidewalks blossomed into well-constructed boardwalks and decks, outlined and guarded by concrete barriers painted by BUMP (Beltline Urban Murals Project) artists and adorned with plants and flowers.

While the Calgary region is notoriously stingy when it comes to patio-weather days, many businesses prepared for the worst by installing patio heaters and convertible enclosures, betting that their clientele would relish the opportunity to sit outside, no matter what.

A positive outcome of this pandemic-induced patio proliferation has been more engaged streetscapes. Rebecca O’Brien, former executive director of the Inglewood Business Improvement Area (BIA), says that the post-pandemic patios have increased street activity, making Calgary’s most patio-centric neighbourhoods the city’s liveliest neighbourhoods.

“The patio relaxations changed the whole dynamic of the street,” O’Brien says.

“Patios are implicit traffic calming tools; beneficial for vibrancy for business and for general happiness.”

It’s not just O’Brien who holds that opinion. The general perception from BIA executives across Calgary seems to be that patios have contributed to increasing the liveliness, social interaction and overall activity both in the BIAs as well as in the neighbouring communities.

“Patios bring art and beautification and vitality,” says Annie MacInnis, executive director of the Kensington BIA.

“It’s [about] more than just a patio.”

Get a weekly serving of suggestions for how to experience Calgary's restaurants, bars and markets by signing up for Avenue’s Food & Drink Newsletter.

This article appears in the July 2024 issue of Avenue Calgary.

Related posts

How Abbey’s Creations Makes its Strawberry Cheesecake Crunch Ice Cream Cake

Chris Landry

New Calgary Patios to Check Out This Summer

Chris Landry

Quiz: Which Upcoming Food Event Should You Check Out in Calgary?

Chris Landry

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Privacy Policy

Privacy & Cookies Policy
Avenue Calgary