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Nelson to phase out gas-powered patio heaters for downtown patios

Restaurant owners with patios in downtown Nelson are required to phase out gas-powered patio heaters before the 2025 patio season.

During April’s city council meeting, Nelson City Councilors approved several changes to the bylaw that regulates sidewalk patios, which was originally developed in 2020 in response to COVID-19 mandates.

The amendments included increasing the annual fees per parking stall, changes to the minimum separation requirements between patios and buildings, and a requirement that all sidewalk patio operators phase out gas-powered patio heaters.

The changes mean downtown restaurant owners will see the annual fee per parking stall increased from $300 to $480, accounting for the city’s recent 60 per cent increase in the hourly parking meter fees.

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Sidewalk patios on Baker Street will see the separation requirement between patios and neighboring buildings increased from 2 meters to 2.3 meters. For other streets, it will be increased from 1.6 meters to 2. These requirements will only apply to new patios or current ones looking to expand or redesign the space.

In regards to gas fueled patio heaters, Councillor Rik Logtenberg pushed for the amendment to require patio operators to phase them out completely by next year, a topic he has felt strongly about since the initial bylaw was developed in 2020.

“So in 2020 when this came up, I remember feeling strongly that these [gas-powered patio heaters] were not to be permitted. I would strongly suggest amending this to have one year of grace at maximum, but I’d like to see these gone by next year for sure if not sooner.”

Council agreed with Logtenberg’s suggestion, adding that the greenhouse gas emissions generated through the use of gas-power heaters don’t align with the city’s direction regarding climate change.

A unanimous vote approved all the changes, with the requirement that gas-powered heaters be phased out before the 2025 patio season.

Sidewalk patio season begins on May 1.

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