toronto patios

Toronto reveals plan to help restaurants and bars reopen with expanded patios

Under normal circumstances, patio season would be well underway in Toronto by now. But due to the pandemic, restaurants and bars have been forbidden from providing any kind of dine-in service for months.

That's soon about to change, because Mayor John Tory just announced that the city is working on a plan to help restaurants and bars reopen quickly and with expanded patio space, as soon as provincial public health measures allow for it.

The new plan, titled CaféTO, will allow businesses to sign up for a permit to either create a new patio or expand one already in existence in order to provide more space for social distancing once they reopen.

"The City will identify space in the public right-of-way and look at ways to expedite the current application and permitting process for sidewalk cafés and parklets," notes the city's CaféTO webpage.

Tory said he'll ask city council to waive patio fees so restaurants can receive the full benefit of the added space, and they'll be allowed to stretch out onto some sidewalks, curb lanes, other public property and, in some cases, private property.

"The City plans to work with business owners to understand enforcement, accessibility and cleaning requirements, and how to maintain physical distancing, within the space, to keep customers and employees safe," the webpage states.

"Local restaurant/bar owners that are registered for the program will receive a set of City guidelines for the installation of a temporary sidewalk café or curb lane café."

The plan is still in its preliminary phase and Tory said there is still no date for when this will be allowed, as it will have to wait until the provincial order is lifted that requires restaurants to keep dine-in service closed.

He said he's in the process of working on a timeline with the province and he's heard reports that this will be part of Stage 2 of reopening, but there has been no official confirmation as of yet.

Still, he said there's nothing stopping restaurants from "getting ready" and preparing to reopen in the coming weeks and months. 

"I know that businesses will want to reopen, that people will want to get back to their favourite restaurants and watering holes, and we will be very happy from a number of standpoints — economic, social and otherwise — to see these important businesses back in businesses," Tory said.

"We'll look forward to hoisting a pint on one of those patios in the not-too-distant future."

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