ARNPRIOR, ONT. -- The Town of Arnprior has set up extended patios in on-street parking spaces in their downtown section for any restaurant interested.

The move is being used as another way local businesses can bounce back from the pandemic.

"Even though indoor dining is open right now they still are limited to how many diners they can have in their restaurants, so they’re not being able to operate at full capacity," says Lindsay Wilson, the Town of Arnprior's Marketing and Economic Development Officer.

Wilson says the idea was brought forward by one of the businesses in town recently, which is why the extended patios were only put in place the week of the Civic Holiday long weekend.

"Had the request come forward earlier in the year, it’s something that could have been considered at that time," Wilson explains. "But I don’t think anyone predicted the closure would have lasted as long as it did this spring."

"It would have definitely been great in May that’s for sure, because that’s when we were all closed up," says Chantal Beaulieu, owner of the Sweet & Sassy Cafe, and one of three participating restaurants. "Timing is not the greatest but hey, at this time we still have a good month of summer coming."

The other two participating businesses are Lumbertown Ale House and Urban Angus Steak and Wine. Wilson says she was surprised more restaurants didn’t jump at the opportunity, but points to the lingering effects of the pandemic.

"A lot of them, even with this patio project wanted to participate but couldn’t due to staffing issues," said Wilson.

"At this time and point after the year we’ve had anything helps," adds Beaulieu. "It just adds a little bit of flavour to the town again."

Each on-street patio was given two parking spaces to use, meaning only six total spots are lost to downtown parking. Wilson points to two nearby municipal lots as alternative places to park. And although the move comes with not a lot of summer left in the year, Wilson says there is a possibility the project could be given more time.

"Depending on what restrictions will look like in the fall there’s always the possibility that council could extend the patio season."