Orillia expands patio program for businesses

For business owners in Orillia, weekends are about to get a lot livelier.

Orillia began their "See You On The Patio" program on Friday, which was a welcome sight for residents and business owners.

The initiative allows restaurants and shops to expand outside while downtown streets are closed to vehicle traffic.

"You walk around and patios are open. People are walking. It's busy!" says owner Lisa Particelli. "But it's great. That's what we want."

Businesses along Mississauga street in downtown Orillia are allowed to move their merchandise onto the street after 4 pm on Fridays and Saturdays to earn back revenue lost during the pandemic.

Orillia City Councillor Ted Edmond says the program's goal is to support local businesses after a trying year.

"What we're seeing is our citizens and visitors come out, and they just crave the opportunity to get out," Edmond says.

Mark Watson from Pocket Skate and Vintage says the program is exactly what the city needs.

"There's people down here. They're coming around and checking things out while waiting for their tables," Watson says. "It's fantastic."

In Barrie, Open Air Dunlop was underway for another busy weekend; a similar initiative that closes off a portion of the downtown to vehicle traffic to allow for increased opportunities for shops and restaurants.

Tracey Bazker, ZuZu Fashion Boutique owner, hopes the program continues after the pandemic ends.

"People are really enjoying it they are feeling good to be outside again and feeling safe," Baker says.

Both programs will run all summer long.