CafeTO Being Made Permanent
Report to Oct 27th executive committee recommends CaféTO be made a permanent program that can continue providing support to local restaurants while also making city streets more vibrant for years to come.
Designed as a quick-start program in 2020 to help local bars and restaurants during the pandemic, the popular program was approved by Toronto City Council to return in 2021 and saw a 51 per cent increase in participation when compared to 2020 registration. CaféTO is supporting over 1,200 restaurants with expanded outdoor dining opportunities on streets and sidewalks in 2021, including 940 restaurants with curb lane closures, totalling over 12 linear kilometres of public space allocated for outdoor dining opportunities. Sixty-nine Business Improvement Areas (BIAs) have had at least one restaurant participating in CaféTO this year and 158 participating restaurants are located outside of BIAs. Public parklets were installed to provide an increased amount of public space in café-saturated streetscapes. In 2021, there were 39 BIAs that participated in the public parklet program, with a total of 65 public parklets city-wide.
This summer, the City launched a public survey for restaurant operators, customers and the general public to gather feedback about CaféTO. The survey received more than 10,000 responses which showed that 91 per cent of respondents believed that extended sidewalk and curb lane cafés should be allowed in Toronto even into the future.
Parameters for proposed CafeTO program
- City staff are recommending a phased approach toward a permanent and streamlined CaféTO program.
- This report recommends a new registration process for future, permanent CaféTO sidewalk cafés starting in 2022.
- The new, permanent process would be fast and streamlined and, if approved, restaurant operators will only need to apply once for year-round expanded sidewalk cafés.
- Currently, existing temporary CaféTO sidewalk cafés can remain in place and available through the winter, April 14, 2022.
- Approximately 500 restaurants city-wide already carry a permanent permit for a sidewalk patio, and in 2021, 429 restaurants opened a new, or expanded an existing, sidewalk café through CaféTO.
- While the report recommends the return of temporary curb lane cafés next year, with installation starting as early as May 2022 and under similar guidelines and requirements from 2021, it also includes a recommendation to develop criteria for the permanent, seasonal use of curb lane cafés by 2023.
- This approach will help keep the program as flexible as possible in order to allow for adjustments related to potential changes to the food service industry, as well as changes to traffic patterns and street uses as a result of pandemic recovery over the coming year.
- In addition, City staff are proposing to once again waive all application, transfer and permit fees for curb lane, sidewalk and parklet cafés in 2022.