Starting today, local restaurant and bar operators interested in expanding their outdoor dining space into the curb lane and onto sidewalks can register and apply for permits online at www.toronto.ca/cafeto.
The CaféTO program provides more outdoor dining areas by making space in the public right-of-way available to bars and restaurants and by expediting the application and permitting process for sidewalk cafés and curb lane cafés in accordance with public health guidelines.
New for 2022, café operators are eligible for a matching grant of up to $7,500 to cover 50 per cent of the cost of eligible property or site improvements related to curb lane café installations, sidewalk cafés or patios on private property, through the CaféTO Property Improvement Program. More information about the grant, including the application is available at here.
In November 2021, City Council directed staff to reinstate the permanent permitting process for sidewalk cafés in 2022, while continuing to waive all application, transfer and permit fees.
A new streamlined, online permit application process, means businesses need only apply once for year-round expanded sidewalk cafés. Businesses can now submit application documents and complete payment in one convenient online system.
Obtaining a permanent sidewalk café permit will provide benefits to businesses, including a one-time permit application that can be renewed through the annual business licence process. This will provide certainty for businesses in terms of their permitted sidewalk café space, which allows for greater confidence when considering investments in café furnishings.
Registration for temporary curb lane cafés closes Saturday, April 2 at 11:59 p.m. Restaurant and bar operators must not miss the registration deadline as applications received after the deadline may not be able to be accommodated. Businesses who miss the deadline and are not able to be accommodated in 2022 can reapply next year.
Once applications are received, City staff will create traffic management plans to safely close curb lanes and develop a balanced approach to curb lane use to support all businesses, including loading zones, garbage/recycling pickup zones, bike parking, etc.
Pending public health orders, approved CaféTO curb lane locations would be installed as early as mid-May – in time for the May long weekend.
In order to ensure valuable curb lane space is used to its maximum benefit, businesses must operate their curb lane area during normal business hours for at least one meal service a day, three times a week.
CaféTO also supports restaurant and bar operators to expand outdoor dining opportunities on private property. The City has enacted temporary use Zoning Bylaws to permit larger outdoor patios than would otherwise be permitted and to allow outdoor patios in parking lots.
City staff have worked closely with the Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas (TABIA) and local restaurant and bar operators, as well as accessibility stakeholders and others to continually improve the CaféTO program. Some of these improvements include:
In 2021, CaféTO supported 1,213 restaurants with curb lane cafés, of those 1,055 were in BIAs and 158 were outside of BIAs. An additional 65 public parklets in 39 BIAs were activated. The program provided 940 restaurants with curb lane closures, which converted 12,000 metres (12 kilometers) of traffic lanes into new outdoor dining space for restaurants.
Restaurant operators are encouraged to add their restaurant to Destination Toronto’s ToGoToronto.com, a free listing of Toronto restaurants that are open for safe takeout, delivery and patios as public health restrictions allow. The platform was created by Destination Toronto in partnership with the City of Toronto to continue to support the economic recovery of the restaurant community. Learn more at www.togotoronto.com/.
Details about CaféTO, including how to register, are available at www.toronto.ca/cafeto.