Toronto City Council Approves Extended Winter-Patio Program

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TORONTO — Toronto City Council has unanimously approved Mayor John Tory’s key item that will extend its winter-patio program to provide more outdoor-dining options to support local restaurants this winter and into the spring. Provincial orders currently prohibit indoor dining in Toronto and restaurants need flexibility to find expanded outdoor-dining spaces that are safe and meet important accessibility requirements.

The successful CaféTO program has been extended and will allow some restaurants to occupy sidewalk space along the curbside, to serve customers and generate revenue. In addition, City Council is extending zoning bylaw amendments, through spring 2021, that will increase the maximum size of outdoor patios on private property and remove restrictions that might prevent an outdoor patio located in front of buildings (frontage café). Council has also voted to waive all fees and charges for Winter CaféTO locations. As well, Council has directed all relevant city departments to work with local councillors to help restaurateurs through the approval processes and expedite requests for winter patios and tents on and off their property.

“Winter is coming and we need to support restaurants by allowing winter cafés right now. Sidewalk cafés and expanded private patio space are just a few ways we will support restaurants this winter and into the spring,” says Tory. “The effects of COVID-19 have been felt throughout the industry, and I will continue to encourage staff to come up with new and creative ways in which we can continue to support local restaurant operators while recognizing that we must maintain important safety and accessibility requirements.”

Restaurant operators interested in creating a winter sidewalk café must first register. More information, including new guidelines, will be available at the start of November at toronto.ca/CafeTO.

Portable heaters, including fuelled appliances such as propane heaters, are permitted to be placed within sidewalk cafés and on private patios, to help keep customers more comfortable while dining, as long as fire-safety requirements are followed closely. Open-air fires, such as wood firepits, are not permitted in the public right of way and only on private property with an open-air fire permit.

For public-safety reasons, temporary tents and structures are not permitted in city right of way, including sidewalks. Temporary tents and structures may be allowed on private patios when prevailing public-health guidelines are met and Ontario Building Code is followed.

The City’s CaféTO program has been a popular quick-start program that started during the COVID-19 pandemic and, at its peak, supported 621 restaurants across Toronto with increased dining capacity. This has included as many as 439 curb lane and sidewalk closures, occupying more than 9,600 metres of public right-of-way, as well as 44 parklets.

The full report is available online.

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