Restaurants and bars can now apply to increase their patios, outdoor dining spaces

Jun 15 2020, 9:57 am

On Monday, the City of Toronto is opening online registration for CaféTO, its new program designed to help the restaurant and bars restart after the pause caused by the pandemic.

A staff report on the initiative, scheduled for consideration at Executive Committee on June 22, proposes the City take quick action to make way for additional safe outdoor dining spaces for local restaurants and bars, which may well include space on sidewalks.

An online registration form and guidebook for the proposed program is now available online.

Restaurants and bars, along with their patios, remain closed for dine-in service due to provincial orders and public health recommendations, for the time being. Once provincial orders are listed, restaurants with existing patios can open them so long as public health guidelines are followed.

If approved by the Executive Committee, followed by Toronto City Council later this month, the CaféTO recommendations will make it easier for many restaurant and bar owners to open patios, expand them, and access additional space for physical distancing, in accordance with public health guidelines and in alignment with new provincial allowances.

The CaféTO program will provide restaurants and bars opportunities to safely expand into the public right-of-way which will allow for better physical distancing and give them a chance to use that space to generate revenue. It is our goal to cut red tape and help independent restaurant owners to expedite this process to attract past and new customers to their establishments,” Councillor James Pasternak, chair of the Infrastructure and Environment Committee, said in a release.

“While traffic and pedestrian volumes remain low, maintaining accessibility requirements and protecting the movement of all, especially on sidewalks and in the curb lane is paramount. This program addresses those potential issues and more as we continue to use the available space on our roads to help our city recover sooner.”

The proposed report recommends City staff work closely local restaurant and bar operators to establish options for café configurations within the right-of-way, while also temporarily pausing certain bylaw elements for the 2020 patio season to ensure the following:

  • Rapid installation of permitted cafés while maintaining public safety.
  • Access to restaurant and bar services and facilities for those dining outdoors.
  • That Permit and application fees are waived for approved cafés.
  • Accessibility and physical distancing requirements are met.

Local restaurants and bars can begin the process to register for the proposed new program now, in order to better understand requirements and start planning to reopen.

A cross-divisional action team from Toronto Public Health, Transportation Services, Economic Development, Municipal Licensing and Standards, City Planning, and Strategic Communications has been overseeing program development to ensure it’s made available as soon as possible, pending committee and council consideration.

Members of the group have been working closely with the Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas (TABIA), restaurant associations and other key stakeholders to urgently navigate all possible considerations while anticipating issues.

“One of the keys to Toronto’s economic restart and recovery will be making sure we do everything we can to help our restaurants and bars thrive. We need to protect jobs, bring vibrancy back to our streets and help create enjoyable experiences for residents and visitors. Cities around the world have embraced similar approaches to encourage more patio space,” said Mayor John Tory.

“Given the ongoing threat of virus spread and the need to keep customers and employees safe, CaféTO is another comprehensive, quick-start program that will help many local restaurants and bars to stay in business.”