The City of Toronto says the first application process is now open for restaurants and bars that want to expand their outdoor dining spaces into curb lanes and onto sidewalks.
The registration opened up Friday morning at 9 a.m. and owners will be able to apply for a month until March 26. There will be a second window for applications immediately afterwards, city officials said.
“Pending public health orders, approved CaféTO curb lane locations from the first window would be installed as soon as mid-May — almost two months earlier than last year and in time for the May long weekend,” the city said in a news release earlier this week.
Those who apply during the second window for registration can expect to have their expanded outdoor dining space installed in June, just before the Canada Day long weekend, the city said.
Toronto currently remains in a stay-at-home order and lockdown due to COVID-19 cases and emerging variants. However, the city said it is starting the process for outdoor dining early as the warmer months are ahead.
“This year’s CaféTO program will be bigger and better than ever. We are opening registration as early as possible so the program will be up and running in May and ready to help restaurants throughout the summer months,” Mayor John Tory said.
“I look forward to seeing the CaféTO installations back on our streets again this May,” he said.
The City of Toronto said it has made some improvements to the program after working with local restaurants, bars and BIAs:
- a clearer registration process, that starts sooner, as well as an updated guidebook that includes enhancements to accessibility requirements
- a more efficient CaféTO installation process, to begin helping approved businesses as soon as possible once winter is over and public health regulations permit outdoor dining
- commitment to ensure more restaurants in Scarborough, Etobicoke and North York are ready to take advantage of opportunities for quick expansion of outdoor dining
- development of comprehensive and safe traffic management plans that will help ensure the curb lane cafés are as safe as possible for people dining, employees and people using the road
- allowing some owners and operators to build temporary platforms for curb lane café areas, where applicable
- ensuring there is accessible furniture for public parklet areas
The CaféTO program, which allows restaurants and bars to expand their patio spaces into curb lanes and sidewalks, was created amid the COVID-19 pandemic and public health orders so that businesses could ensure physical distancing and eat outside if indoor dining was prohibited.
The city said in 2020, almost 900 restaurants across Toronto participated in the CaféTO program along with the use of 44 public parklets. There were 429 curb lane closures that converted 9,683 metres of traffic lanes into outdoor dining spaces for restaurants.