The City of Toronto announced on Thursday the creation of CaféTO, a program aimed to help restaurants and bars create more outdoor space for customers when they are allowed to reopen amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Mayor John Tory made the announcement alongside Deputy Mayor Michael Thompson and other city officials at a press conference.
The program is aimed to help restaurants and bars to not only open their patios, but to expand them, to account for the need for physical distancing and to help make up for lost revenue during the remaining summer months.
“The program will provide more outdoor dining areas by identifying space in the public right-of-way and expediting the current application and permitting process for sidewalk cafés and parklets,” a press release said Thursday.
Parklets extend the sidewalk into the curb lane, and the city says it’s looking at using those spaces for patios.
Tory said that while restaurants and bars remain closed under provincial orders, City staff are available to help put plans in place in anticipation of opening.
“We are doing everything we can to help residents and businesses get through this terrible time,” said Tory. “CaféTO is one more example of a quick-start program that will bring vibrancy back to our main streets and help our hospitality industry and all those who rely on it.”
The City has already conducted the following:
- Creating a cross-divisional action team to oversee the program quickly and efficiently.
- Conducting a review of a number of current requirements and determining how the City can better support businesses, including waiving patio fees which would otherwise be levied on expanded space so as to help struggling businesses.
- Undertaking planning for reallocation of curb lanes for patios to maximize space and further help the industry.
- Consulting with BIAs and other key stakeholders including TABIA and restaurant industry associations to help coordinate this important economic rescue initiative. They will be key to ensuring restaurants in appropriate locations across the city can sign up quickly for expanded space.
- Establishing the essential café placements guidelines that will ensure these patios can be operational as soon as possible after they are permitted.
Regular permit and applications fees may be waived in order for establishments to be able to open these new aspects to their business.
“CafeTO represents an opportunity to expand patio culture across our City and bring people back to our main streets as the City begins to reopen and recover,” said Thompson
“By providing more outdoor space for our restaurants and bars in the public right of way, CaféTO will help animate appropriate locations and provide support for one of our hardest hit industries during this health crisis.”
The city says more information will be released next week.
—With files from The Canadian Press
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