Patios on streets and sidewalks set to return in spring

The dining and drinking patios that lined the Danforth, Queen Street East and other Toronto streets last summer may be back in spring — bigger than ever, if city council gives the green light.

A report, calling for an expanded CaféTO program, was approved by the city’s executive council today and will go to council for the final okay Feb. 2–3.

“Keeping CaféTO and making it bigger and better is the right thing to do,” Mayor John Tory said.

Story continues after ad

Tory said the program, which allowed restaurant and bar operators to open patios along sidewalks and in curb lanes of streets with physical distancing during the pandemic last year, was a “popular and successful” initiative that kept local businesses going.

“We know operators and residents want the program to return this summer,” he said.

The sidewalk and curbside patios were in effect during the summer period when outdoor dining was allowed, conditions that may return in spring after the current lockdown is lifted.


Survey finds folks in favour

The report says a survey of 2,800 establishments and members of the public found 95 per cent of people want to see the CaféTO back this year.

Sixty-six per cent of restaurants said they would not have been financially viable without the patio program.

This year the city could expand the program by starting registrations sooner (as early as February), supporting quick installations as soon as winter is over, and allowing businesses to build decks and platforms for curb lanes in some areas, among other measures, the report proposes.

The plan announced today seems to have been greeted enthusiastically online, with some people on social media expressing skepticism about the benefits of the program and others complaining the program benefits people and businesses in the central parts of Toronto more than in the suburbs, where patios are far fewer.