What do I need to know when preparing my plans?
Common Sidewalk Café Terms
barrier means a fence, railing or other obstacle that prevents or restricts the movement or access of pedestrians;
municipal street furniture includes bus shelters, banners, flower pots, benches, waste receptacles and other decorations located in the street;
municipal infrastructure includes infrastructure that supports the provision of municipal services and includes public trees, light standards, street lights, traffic signals, traffic signs, parking meters and other municipal signs;
Things to Reminder When Preparing Your Plan
To allow sufficient space for utility trucks and/or equipment to access the utility services such as water valves, manholes, located near or same area as your sidewalk café.
Do I need a temporary sidewalk?
You’ll need to install a temporary sidewalk adjacent to your sidewalk café if the café barrier is installed in such a way that it reduces the width of the sidewalk to less than 2.1m (7 feet), including being obstructed by sidewalk cafés, municipal infrastructure or municipal street furniture.
List of possible items on front of the building to include in your plans (if applicable)
- current exits (must be maintained)
- fire department connections
- gas connections
- existing vents
- communication connections
- power meters
- sandwich board (must be licensed through licensing authority and must not block pedestrian access)
List of possible items to be included in your plans along with the distance from the barrier to the item(s)
- fire hydrants
- street lights
- garbage cans
- mail boxes
- bicycle racks
- bus stop benches and shelters
- street signs (including signs to be removed) (0.15m of the base of street sign must remain in ground)
- parking pay station
- trees and plants
- utility services, for example manholes or shut off valves (access must remain)
- catch basins (access must remain)
Refer to the Sidewalk Café Brochure [PDF] and Sidewalk Café Brochure on Argyle/Grafton Street [PDF] for examples of the drawings and plans.
- All sidewalk cafés licensed for alcohol must be enclosed by a barrier that is at least 0.9 m (3’-0”) in height, and no more than 1.2 m (4’-0”) high.
- Barriers higher than 0.9 m (3’-0”) shall be at least 30 m (98’-0”) away from the nearest intersection.
- The barrier shall be installed in such a way that it does not reduce the unobstructed sidewalk width to less than 2.1m (7 feet), failing which, a temporary sidewalk shall be installed by the proprietor adjacent to the sidewalk café.
- Barrier shall be setback at least 0.45 m (1’-6”) from any municipal street furnishings.
- Minimum barrier setback from fire hydrants shall be 1.2 m (4-0”’).
- Barrier footings shall not penetrate the sidewalk.
Temporary Sidewalk Requirements (If Applicable)
- Temporary sidewalks shall be guarded by a traffic barrier at ends exposed to vehicular travel.
- Traffic barriers shall be no less than .81 m (2’-8”) in height and no more than 1.05 m (3’-6”) in height (in total of all elements).
- Traffic barriers shall incorporate reflectors.
- Temporary sidewalk surfaces shall be slip resistant and barrier free access.
- Construction details of the temporary sidewalk, includes location, dimensions of the traffic barrier / planters including material and plant height (if applicable)
- Dimensions including the width, length and distance to municipal infrastructure or municipal street furniture.
- Temporary sidewalk construction shall maintain existing drainage patterns and storm water runoff volumes.
- Finish details of the temporary sidewalk (must be slip resistant finish)
- Placement of temporary sidewalks shall not impede vehicular and pedestrian traffic movement or safety.
- Temporary sidewalk surfaces shall not impede pedestrian movement.
- Deck exceeding a height of 0.6 m (2’-0”) requires stamped structural design plans
- Construction details of a café base (cannot be fastened to sidewalk)
- Construction details of café structure includes materials, size and spacing
- Finish details of café deck and barrier free access
- Construction details of barrier including height (0.9 m (3’-0”) to 1.2 m (4’-0”)).
- Location of the seating, tables and umbrella’s (approximate)
- Decks shall not be constructed over underground services (hydro vaults, chambers, maintenance holes, manholes, valves, etc.), without prior written approval from the relevant public utility, and must provide access to the infrastructure to the satisfaction of the affected utility.
- Decks shall be as close to the elevation of the existing sidewalk grade as possible (accommodating a level surface area and deck framing).
- Where alternate barrier-free access to the principle use property is not available, a ramp shall be provided within the deck area to facilitate barrier-free access.
- Plant material shall be contained within the sidewalk café.
- Umbrellas shall be made of non-combustible material and when open, not extend beyond the sidewalk café’s barrier.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Who should I contact for a license to serving alcohol on the sidewalk café?
A: For approval to service liquor on your patio contact Alcohol & Gaming by calling 1-877-565-0556 or visit Alcohol & Gaming website https://novascotia.ca/sns/access/alcohol-gaming.asp
Q: Who should I contact if my café or temporary sidewalk requires a sign post to be removed?
A: Upon receipt of your permission letter, you will see a condition that asks you notify staff five (5) business days before the start of construction. All posts must be removed by HRM staff.
Q: When will I be able to start to build my sidewalk café?
A: For seasonal cafés, once you have received your permission to construct a sidewalk café letter, construction can commence between April 15th to November 15th, in a given calendar year. Annual cafes may construct as soon as you receive your permission to construct letter.