Sidewalk, curb-lane patios to become permanent dining experience in Toronto

Those sidewalk and curb-lane patios that have sprouted during the pandemic may become a permanent feature of dining in Toronto.

The city’s executive committee yesterday approved extending the CaféTO initiative, launched in 2020 to help expand outdoor dining areas for restaurants and bars affected by COVID-19, indefinitely.

Led by Mayor John Tory, on Oct. 27 the committee approved a staff report recommending CaféTO made a permanent program “for years to come,” according to a city news release.

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The plan will now be considered at the Nov. 9–10 city council council, where it is expected to be easily passed.

“This is a good program for restaurants and residents, and I am committed to making sure it continues,” Tory said in the press release.

“The CaféTO program has been successful and popular and has helped hundreds of restaurants stay open, generate revenue and protect jobs through the pandemic,” the mayor said. “I am encouraged that members of the Executive Committee recognized the value and support that has been provided to local businesses through CaféTO. ”

The report also proposed waiving all application, transfer and permit fees for curb lane, sidewalk and parklet cafés in 2022.

Staff also recommended phasing in a streamlined CaféTO program that, starting in 2022, would require restaurants to apply only once for year-round expanded sidewalk cafés.

Existing temporary CaféTO sidewalk cafés can remain in place and available through the winter until April 14, 2022.

The city estimates 500 restaurants already carry a permanent permit for a sidewalk patio, and this year saw 429 restaurants open or expand an existing sidewalk café through the CaféTO program