The City of Toronto launched a CaféTO installation and expansion blitz over the weekend, which means a surge in curb lane closures will be seen throughout the week.
Rapid expansion of outdoor dining space for local restaurants and bars is the goal of the blitz, through the city’s quick-start program, launched in early June.
CaféTO makes it easier for restaurant and bar owners to open patios, expand them, and access additional space for physical distancing during the summer months.
The program provides more outdoor dining areas by identifying space in the public right-of-way, and expediting the current application and permitting process for sidewalk cafés. All of this is done in accordance with public health guidelines.
According to a release, city staff began to accelerate the installation of verified CafeTO applications across multiple BIAs this weekend. As a result, an increase in the number of streetscape-based curb lane closures can already be seen throughout the city, with new installations to continue throughout the week.
Site-specific technical requirements may cause some delays, however, city staff continue to work with BIAs and the local business community to fast-track as many restaurant registrations and curb lane installations as possible.
“We are doing everything we can as a municipal government to support restaurant and bar operators in the city following the COVID-19 shutdown, and this blitz is just one example of that effort,” Mayor John Tory said.
“Restaurant and bar patios are an integral part of Toronto’s economy and supporting them during these challenging times is a top priority. I am thankful to city staff who have been working around the clock to make sure Torontonians can enjoy more outdoor dining spaces while they practise physical distancing.”
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City council approved the CaféTO program on June 29 and, since, 47 curb lane closures have been installed supporting 73 restaurants across Toronto.
An action team consisting of individuals from Toronto Public Health, Transportation Services, Economic Development, Municipal Licensing and Standards, City Planning, and Strategic Communications has been overseeing the development and implementation of the program. Group members have also been working closely with the Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas (TABIA), restaurant associations and other key stakeholders.
The city received a new Ministerial Zoning Order (MZO) from the Province of Ontario on June 9, that will help ease zoning restrictions on outdoor patios while allowing for expanded patios on private property, including parking areas, valid until November 16.
The Order offers restaurants and bars increased opportunity to respond to physical distancing requirements associated with the pandemic.
Local restaurant operators interested in installing a new patio or expanding an existing patio on private property do not need to register for CaféTO but should familiarize themselves with the order, available for viewing here.
Restaurants and bars can register for CaféTO online here.