Ontario’s Stay-at-Home order isn’t clouding the City of Toronto’s summertime plans as they move ahead with setting up curbside barriers so that CaféTO patios can run again this year.
Mayor John Tory made the announcement on Wednesday, saying that installing the protected curbside lanes will begin as soon as May 8.
According to the City, these installations take quite some time to complete so getting a jump start on them now “ensures that they will be immediately available to operators when public health orders permit outdoor dining.”
“We know at some point, we will be able to reopen again and we want to make sure we are doing everything as a City to help businesses be ready to safely welcome customers at the earliest date possible,” Tory said.
“They need these extra outdoor seats to start earning back revenue lost during the pandemic [….] We want to be ready so that restaurants and bars won’t have to wait for the installations and to accommodate the tremendous demand we have seen for CaféTO again this year.”
After a round of applications to be a part of the CaféTO program closed on Tuesday, there are now 720 curb lane café and 71 public parklet locations being reviewed for the first round of installations. Additional rounds of applications and installations will take place throughout the spring and summer.
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CaféTO launched last year in response to the pandemic to help the city’s restaurants and bars accommodate guests outdoors by allowing sidewalk and curbside seating areas. A total of 897 restaurants and 44 parklets participated, converting 9,683 metres of traffic lanes into outdoor dining space.
“CaféTO was a vitally important program for many restaurant operators in Toronto last summer, and it will be just as important and just as urgent this year for restaurants across the city, including downtown and in suburban areas,” said Councillor Jennifer McKelvie, chair of the Infrastructure and Environment Committee.
“Traffic volumes remain significantly lower than normal and we need to be ready to support restaurant owners with street, sidewalk and parklet space as soon as health orders allow.”
The opening of restaurants and bars is dependent on the Provincial stay-at-home-order being lifted and Toronto being moved into the Red zone. As of now, the order is in place until May 20.