CaféTO Resources & Guidelines

Toronto City Council has just approved a bigger and better CaféTO 2021 program to help local restaurants. Estimated launch: May 15. Again, The Junction BIA will work with the City to create multiple curb lane closures to accommodate patios for our local restauranteurs and visitors.

The CaféTO program was implemented in July 2020 by the City of Toronto in partnership with The Junction BIA. The program allowed our businesses to create a patio space for patrons while building increased foot traffic to support the entire business community. Read more here about how the CaféTO 2020 program was a great success!

Please read below for important details and an FAQ. 

On This Page: 

  1. The CaféTO Guidebook
  2. What options do I have with CaféTO?
  3. How to Get Involved & Register
  4. Fees
  5. The Division of Curb Lane Closures and Working with Your Neighbours
  6. Planters and Landscaping 
  7. Garbage Collection in a Closure 
  8. Amplified Sound 
  9. Built Structures and Delineation Items 
  10. Opening and Closing Times
  11. Patio Furniture Suppliers
  12. Patio Ideas and Photos
  13. Moving Into the Red Zone
  14. Other FAQ

The CaféTO Guidebook

The details of the CaféTO Program can be found on the CaféTO webpage and in the CaféTO Guidebook. Much on the information from this page has been compiled and condensed from those sources. 

What Options Do I Have to Participate?

  1. Curb Lane Café: The City will close portions of the outer lane of Dundas St W to traffic. Restaurants and bars may use this space on the street to set up a patio, with the sidewalks open to pedestrians. If you are permitted a curb lane closure, you may also use the sidewalk adjacent to the curb lane (the furnishing zone0, but you must ensure that a pedestrian clearway of 2.1m of sidewalk space is maintained. 
  2. Sidewalk Café: Located on the sidewalk adjacent to the frontage and expanded frontage wall of the building. Sidewalk cafés may be expanded in front of a neighbouring business if written permission is granted from the adjacent tenant and/or property owner. In rare cases, the City may also allow a sidewalk café in the furnishing zone. 
  3. A Small Frontage Café: Cafés located directly against the building and must be a maximum size of 0.8 metres deep by 5.5 metres wide. Does not require CaféTO Registration.
  4. A Flankage Café: Flankage cafés are located on the sidewalk or boulevard along the side of a restaurant, generally on a local side street (For example, the patio for The Beet). This café type requires registration with the City of Toronto and written support from the local Councillor’s office.
  5. A Private Patio Café: If you have available private outdoor space attached to your restaurant – on a private parking lot, rooftop, or backyard space, for example – you can create a patio without CaféTO registration. All you need is permission from the property owner. Some things to note:
    1. You can install an outdoor patio on the ground that has an area up to 50% of the interior floor area of your establishment, or 50 square metres, whichever is greater.
    2. An outdoor patio must be set back at least 30 metres from all properties in a residential zone.
    3. For the creation of a permanent private patio that is street-facing, you may be able to acquire up to $12,500 in cost-shared funding through the Commercial Facade Improvement Program.
    4. Details and restrictions can be found starting on page 37 of the CaféTO Guidebook

How to Register

In order to use any space for a patio on public property (outside a small frontage café), you must contact The Junction BIA and Register. 

  1. Inform the BIA of your intentions to participate in the CaféTO program by emailing Matthew Mohan, Operations Manager. It is important that you are built into their streetscape plans. 
  2. Carefully read the CaféTO Placement Guidebook.
  3. Collect all required forms.
    1. A City of Toronto Eating Establishment Licence Number (starts with B71).
    2. A Completed Certificate of Insurance PDF* Download and have your insurance broker complete this form. 
    3. Only for sidewalk cafés, not adjacent to a curb lane cafe and in front of another business/property: A Letter of Permission from the adjacent business and/or property owner.
  4. Register for CaféTO by March 26, 2021. If you do not complete the registration by this deadline, you will not be given permission to open your patio in May. 
  5. Wait for confirmation from the MLS. 


Fees for new and existing patio permits will be waived.

Working with Your Neighbours

A curb lane closure may be available to multiple restaurants and bars. Unless otherwise specified and agreed upon by all CaféTO operators, the City will be dividing the space equally between the restaurants. They will not be taking into account variables such as normal square footage or capacity limits. 
It is important that businesses work together to best make use of the space. You may discuss different hours of use or the sharing of furniture. We recommend that if you are not using your space at certain times you open it up to your retail neighbours – we never want a space to be sitting empty and idle. 
Deliveries: Restaurants should work with their neighbours, inc retail and service, to organize a specific day(s) for deliveries, if they require it. 

Planter Boxes

The Junction BIA will not be requesting or coordinating planter boxes from the City this year. We recommend that business owners find alternative, less expensive, and less bulky methods of beautifying their patios with florals (shout-out to Deco last year!) – Or connect with the City themselves ( if they want the large self-watering planters from the City.
City CaféTO Planter Specs: Vista 48 Self-Watering Planters are 48″ L x 26″ W x 21″ H with a soil capacity of 0.32 cubic yards. They are self-watering with a 181.7 litre water reservoir.   

From the City: “Standard potting soil comprised of a combo of peat moss, perlite and vermiculite  – peat moss being the important factor. They could also mix standard topsoil with 2 parts peat moss, depending on what they have on hand and resources. In summary – potting soil (best), or raised bed soil, should be OK. Topsoil is too heavy and doesn’t allow enough drainage or aeration and will cause the boxes to rot/grow mould/kill the beautiful plants!”

Landscapers: Businesses may be interested in using the services of a professional landscaper. The two landscapers often used by The Junction BIA are Makslea Landscaping ( and Parkdale Green Thumb Enterprises (, or see this List of Landscapers

Garbage Collection

Unfortunately, weekly garbage collection cannot happen within a closure. Any businesses/resident that normally use garbage collection from the front will need to begin putting their garbage in a spot where there is no closure, ideally under a street light. Ensure your location’s address is on your bins. If garbage is left anywhere in a closure area, on the sidewalk or curb lane, it will not be collected. 

Amplified Sound 

According to the CaféTO Guidebook, “please ensure that noise arising from the service of food and alcohol on your outdoor café does not disturb local residents. Amplified sound is not permitted.

Remember, amplified sound coming from outside or inside will encourage patrons to speak louder or yell, increasing the chance of COVID-19 transmission. Light background music, coming from indoors, is okay. 

Built Structures

Temporary Tents and Structures: For safety and accessibility reasons, tents, enclosures and other similar structures are not permitted on City roads, sidewalks or any portion of the public right-of-way.  

Temporary Fences: This year, temporary delineation items (fencing, planters) are permitted in curb lane and sidewalk cafés. Details and restrictions can be found starting on page 30 of the CaféTO Guidebook

Temporary Platforms: Temporary platforms are constructed or pre-fabricated structures placed in the curb lane that provide a raised, step-free sidewalk-level walking and seating surface for café patrons that conforms to the Ontario Building Code and the Accessibility of Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA). This year, temporary platforms are permitted in curb lane cafés, but are not permitted on the sidewalk. Applying for permission can be onerous. Details and restrictions can be found starting on page 34 of the CaféTO Guidebook

Opening and Closing Times

Opening Time: CaféTO operators should be able to set up you patio and begin serving alcohol as early as the stated permissible hours for the sale as service of alcohol by the AGCO: 9:00 AM

Closing Time: Cafés in the curb lane and on the sidewalk frontage may serve alcohol until 2:00 a.m., and must be vacated by 2:45 a.m., unless the operator has a condition imposed on their establishment from Community Council or the AGCO that requires them to close earlier, or unless alternate hours of operation have been imposed under provincial COVID regulations: 

    1. Green Zone: No provincial COVID-related restrictions on hours. 
    2. Yellow Zone: Alcohol may not be sold after 11:00 p.m. and the business must be closed by midnight. 
    3. Orange Zone: Alcohol may not be sold after 9:00 p.m. and the business must be closed by 10:00 pm.
    4. Red Zone: Alcohol may not be sold after 9:00 p.m. and the business must be closed by 10:00 p.m. 
    5. Grey Zone: Alcohol may not be sold after 9:00 p.m. and the business must be closed by 10:00 p.m. 
    6. Shutdown: Restaurants not permitted to operate indoor and outdoor service. 

Flankage cafés (along the side of your building, and/or on a local road) must be vacated by 11 p.m., which requires the business to have their “last call for alcohol service” at 10:15 p.m. or unless alternate hours of operation have been imposed by Community Council or under provincial regulations. 

Patio Furniture Suppliers

We are aware that patio furniture is in short supply right now. We have compiled a list of patio furniture contacts that you may be interested in reaching out to. Don’t forget to ask for a good deal!


Patio Ideas

Click Here to for a database of photos of really beautiful and impactful street patios across Toronto and the world. Keep in mind, not all of these will meet the City of Toronto guidelines, so be sure that those are followed. 

Who can Operate in the Red Zone?

As soon as we move into the Red Zone, some restaurants can start operating outdoors in the following scenarios: 

  1. Private Property Patios: As soon as we move into the Red, private property patios are permitted to open (within the City guidelines). 
  2. Curbside (CaféTO) Patios: Patios on the sidewalk can open as soon as we move into the Red and you receive permission following CaféTO Registration. 
  3. Flankage Patios (new and existing): Patios on the sidewalk can open as soon as we move into the Red and you receive permission following CaféTO Registration.

Curb Lane cafés cannot open until the City closes the lane in May. 

Other FAQ

Registration Questions

Q: Where do I register? 

A: Please register here:

Q: When is the deadline to register? 

A: To operate a CaféTO patio starting in May, you must register by March 26. If you miss the March 26 window, you will not be permitted to operate until June at the earliest. If you do not register, the City may not even create a closure for you. 

Q: Where is the official guidebook for CaféTO?

A: Find it here:

Q: If I am applying for a Curb Lane closure but I also want to use the sidewalk space (furnishing zone) adjacent to the closure, do I need a permission letter from my neighbours? 

A: No. You only need a Letter of Permissions from your neighbours if you are applying for a sidewalk café that is against the building, or in the furnishing zone but not adjacent to your curb lane closure. 

Curb Lane Café Set-Up Questions

Q: What is the minimum amount of clearance or space on the sidewalk needed for AODA compliance? 

A: 2.1 Meters. This is non-negotiable. 

Q: Who is providing the barriers for curb-lane closures?

A: The City of Toronto will be providing minimum requirements for the barriers of the curb lane, which are orange “candlestick” pylons. Business owners must provide their own fencing that is more visually appealing than candlesticks.  

Q: When can I erect my own fencing in the curb lane?  

A: As soon as the City closes the curb lane with candlesticks, you are free to erect your own fencing where the candlesticks are, leaving a 1.2 m clearway in the lane for cyclists. The City will return a few weeks later to collect the unneeded candlesticks. 

Q: I am no longer interested in participating in the CaféTO program. Can I give the space in front of my business to my neighbour? 

A: The space on the street in front of your business is not yours to give away. If you are no longer interested in the space, please inform your neighbours and the BIA. This space is to be equitably divided between each of your CaféTO neighbours there, not just given to one.  

Q: Can I prepare food/drink outside in the curb-lane patio closures? 

A: No. This is not allowed. Any patios are for seated dining only. There is no use of propane, grills, etc. permissible in these spaces. 

Q: I am a property owner and am worried about the liability of having a patio on the street in front of my property. What if I don’t give permission? 

A: The curb lane café space on the street is City property, not private property. It is designated for patio use by the City of Toronto and does not require property owner permission. The café operator holds insurance covering this space.  However, if a patio from an adjacent property extends on the sidewalk in front of your property, they will require your permission in writing. 

Q: My café is legally able to be set up until 2 AM in the curb-lane. Does this mean everything needs to be inside at that time, or no service after that time but patrons can linger a bit longer? 

A: You must stop serving alcohol at 2:00 AM, but your customers may linger. All signs of service must be removed by 2:45 AM. 

Q: When will CafeTO close the curb lanes in the Junction? 
A: We only know that the rollout across the City will be from May 8 – 22. It could be anytime within that date, but the Junction will likely be later in the schedule. We will continue to ask CafeTO for a concrete schedule for each BIA.
Q: Can we begin construction of our fences/decks as soon as the city closes the curb lanes?
A: Long story short – Yes. The CafeTO team says that they have no issue with CafeTO operators beginning construction once the closure materials have been placed. 
However, it is up to each individual operator to decide whether construction falls within the province’s list of Essential Construction during the Stay-at-Home Order. In our non-expert opinion, patio construction for restaurants would be considered essential construction that “would provide additional capacity in the production, processing, manufacturing or distribution of food, beverages or agricultural products.”
Q: Can we put out furniture (tables, chairs) as soon as the curb lanes are closed? 
A: Yes – however, until public health regulations restricting outdoor dining are lifted, outdoor dining furniture situated through the CafeTO program may not be used for public seating, dining purposes, or any other congregation. It is up to each CafeTO Operator to ensure that the furniture is inaccessible to the public. This may include using chains, signs, putting furniture upside down, etc. 
The Junction BIA has produced a City-sanctioned 5.5″ x 8.5″ / 8.5” x 11″ NO SEATING PERMITTED signage design for members. The art files can be found here for your printing and installation. Do not remove them until outdoor dining reopens again. 

We will be in touch if anything changes regarding these rules. Keep in mind that bars and patios are the Junction’s best opportunity to bring people to the Junction – this will benefit everyone! 

Remember, this program is here to support all businesses recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and drive increased foot traffic to the Junction – it will only work if everyone works together. 

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