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City of Toronto launches CaféTO plan to help create more outdoor space for local restaurants and bars

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Mayor John Tory launched CaféTO a quick-start program that will make it easier for restaurant and bar owners to open patios, to expand them, and to access additional space for physical distancing and for that matter revenue generation during the summer months ahead.

The program will provide more outdoor dining areas by identifying space in the public right-of-way and expediting the current application and permitting process for sidewalk cafés and parklets.

Right now, restaurants and bars along with their patios remain closed due to provincial orders and public health recommendations. City staff are getting ready now so that we can act quickly to help restaurants and bars.

Significant work has already taken place including:

  • Creating a cross-divisional action team to oversee the program quickly and efficiently.
  • Conducting a review of a number of current requirements and determining how the City can better support businesses, including waiving patio fees which would otherwise be levied on expanded space so as to help struggling businesses.
  • Undertaking planning for reallocation of curb lanes for patios to maximize space and further help the industry.
  • Consulting with BIAs and other key stakeholders including TABIA and restaurant industry associations to help coordinate this important economic rescue initiative. They will be key to ensuring restaurants in appropriate locations across the city can sign up quickly for expanded space.
  • Establishing the essential café placements guidelines that will ensure these patios can be operational as soon as possible after they are permitted.

A key feature of CaféTO will be to allow businesses to establish options for café configurations within the right-of-way and in accordance with public health guidelines. This may potentially include waiving regular permit and application fees in order to install the cafes.

The City plans to provide local restaurant/bar owners with a set of guidelines for the installation of a temporary sidewalk café or curb lane café. A registration process for businesses to sign up for CaféTO will be communicated to business owners when finalized. The City will also work with business owners to understand enforcement, accessibility and cleaning requirements, and how to maintain physical distancing, within the space, to keep customers and employees safe.