patios and bike lanes

Toronto city council set to extend temporary outdoor patio rules until next year

Toronto city council will soon consider a motion to extend restaurant and bar outdoor patio bylaws that make the CafeTO program possible until spring 2022.

The current temporary use bylaws will expire on May 25, 2021. The motion requests that the city council extend temporary use by-laws that allow an increase to the maximum size of outdoor patios and remove restrictions that might prevent an outdoor patio from being located in front of buildings until April 14, 2022.

“Preparation and planning by business owners for outdoor patios typically occurs in the first quarter, and providing an extension to the existing by-laws will provide certainty to operators of these establishments,” the city council agenda read.

The bylaws will complement the city’s CafeTO program that launched last year amid the COVID-19 pandemic and allows restaurants and bars to create expanded patios onto sidewalks and streets.

The program transformed Toronto’s streetscapes and breathed new life into restaurants severely impacted by the pandemic and restrictions that limited or shutdown indoor dining.

According to a city report, the CafeTO program supported 801 restaurants in 62 BIAs and 96 restaurants outside of BIAs last year.

Ten thousand restaurants across Canada have already closed during the pandemic, according to Restaurants Canada. While the CafeTO program has been extended, these bylaw changes are still necessary to make it feasible. They will be the same as the existing bylaws, apart from a new expiration date that coincides with the expiration of the extended CafeTO program.

“Keeping CafeTO and making it bigger and better is the right thing to do,” Mayor John Tory said in January 2021, when the city’s executive committee approved extending the program. “The CafeTO program was a popular and successful quick-start COVID-19 response program that helped local businesses stay in business, helped protect jobs, and improved the quality of life in our city for residents. We know operators and residents want the program to return this summer and we must do everything as we can as a municipality to help local businesses.”

Article exclusive to STREETS OF TORONTO