SASKATOON -- It looks like Saskatoon businesses are a step closer to being able to take their businesses outside again this spring.

The Committee on Planning, Development and Community Services heard from local business leaders Monday morning who stressed the importance of extending the asphalt patio pilot program that was brought into effect last year as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ben Quattrini is the director at The Boutique on Broadway Avenue and likes the idea of using the space in front of his store to sell his product.

“It just gives us more area to accept our customers and work with our customers and all of those things and more space during Covid is always a good thing,” Quattrini told CTV News.

Last year the city announced businesses could move out into parking stalls with no additional tax fees applied.

The goal was to reduce the number of people inside the businesses. Some restaurants took up the offer, but no retailers, according to city administration’s report.

Quattrini offered his support to the idea.

“I’m an actual retailer and I’m going to use it this year, so I wanted to tell them and support it so it they actually go through the work and motions to put it in place, it’s actually going to be used.”

One of the restaurants that took advantage of the extended patio project is Museo Coffee.

The Broadway coffee shop patio gained popularity during the pandemic according to the owner Jimmy Oneschuk who says it made a big difference for his small business.

“This basically doubles our revenue. We’d be sitting at half the revenue of what we normally would otherwise,” Oneschuk told CTV News.

Councilors expressed the need to help businesses so they can continue to stay open. For Oneschuk, his patio was open through the winter - even providing heated seat cushions for customers.

“In Saskatoon this is one of the things they could do that felt normal.”

Mayor Charlie Clark told the committee that this matter should be finalized by May to allow businesses to benefit at the start of the warm weather season.

It will be presented to council later this month.

The fact that it’s being expedited is impressive, according to Quattrini.

“It might be one of very few positives out of that, but it’s certainly a positive.”