Corp Comm Connects

CafeTO plan headed to council
June 23, 2020
Bryan Passifiume

As Toronto prepares to move into the next stages of COVID-19 re-openings, plans allowing Toronto restaurants to more easily open or expand patios are one step closer to becoming reality.

On Monday, the city’s executive committee voted to send the CafeTO plan to next week’s city council meeting, which allows bars and restaurants to apply for additional space -- even curb lanes and adjacent private property -- to establish socially-distant outdoor patios while waiving the costs normally associated with the process.

Local Business Improvement Areas (BIAs) will pay for the planting and maintenance of the expansion areas, with the city’s Economic Development and Culture office offering 50% grants to offset the cost, to a maximum of $5,000 per BIA and an expected total cost of $250,000.

Under the rules, restaurants must maintain two metres between tables, allowing no more than six people; can provide umbrellas but not tents or canopies; and, in the event of rainfall, may move patrons indoors, provided they don’t exceed 50% of the eatery’s rated capacity.

Councillor Paul Ainslie expressed concern over how eateries in his Scarborough ward, many located in areas without BIAs, can take advantage of the grant program.

“A good chunk of Scarborough is small ‘mom-and-pop’ businesses, and there aren’t a lot of business improvement areas,” he said.

Economic Development & Culture Manager Mike Williams said the city would do everything possible to support non-BIA businesses wishing to take part in CafeTO.

Curb-lane patios, which allow eateries to open patio space on curb lanes of adjacent roadways, will be subject to safety reviews and cannot be placed on transit or taxi stops, certain bike lane locations and established loading zones.

Proximity to crosswalks, intersections and driveways will also be a factor for approval.

Operators of curb lane patios must provide traffic barriers and remove all furniture and umbrellas at the end of the day.

Waiving fees sidewalk cafe licencing is expected to cost $775,000, plus revenue losses for roadside parking spot removals.