activeto road closures

Toronto wants to extend CafeTO and ActiveTO to next summer

As it continues to becomes even more clear that COVID-19 isn't going anywhere any time soon, Toronto is working on preemptively extending and improving three pandemic programs for next year. 

On Monday afternoon, Mayor John Tory released a letter sent to the city manager about the extension of CafeTO, ActiveTO and CurbTO — three initiatives started to help members of the public and local businesses adapt to life amid the global health crisis. 

"These programs have taken an incredibly difficult situation and created ways to help residents and businesses cope with this unprecedented pandemic," said Tory in the letter.

"I am proud and thoroughly impressed with the amazing speed that these complex programs were implemented by our City staff."

CafeTO, first introduced in June, resulted in more than 9,000 metres of new patio space across the city this summer as it allowed bars and restaurants to expand existing patios or create new ones using an expedited process.

The program helped 760 restaurants, according to Tory, and it also created 44 public parklets and helped 58 business improvement areas.

ActiveTO, meanwhile, is the city's plan to help residents get outside and stay active while safely social distancing amid the pandemic. The program saw the largest one-year expansion of on-street cycling lanes ever in Toronto, with roughly 40 km of new permanent and temporary bike lanes installed across the city. 

The program has also allowed for weekly closures of major roads to provide ample space for pedestrians and cyclists to move around on weekends, and more than 60 km of "Quiet Streets" have been created in an attempt to make the city's roads more pedestrian-friendly. 

Finally, CurbTO is a program the city introduced to avoid crowding on sidewalks, and it resulted in more than 200 curb lane pedestrian and temporary parking pickup zones.

Following the success of these three programs, Mayor Tory said in the letter that he will be moving a motion at the upcoming executive committee asking city staff to create a report with lessons learned from this year's implementation of these programs as well as recommendations for improvements that can be made in 2021. 

"It is increasingly clear that our fight against COVID-19 will continue into 2021 and the need to continue to encourage physical distancing and accessible outdoor activity as well as increased space for outdoor dining will likely continue into next spring and summer," wrote Tory.

"Given the success of these programs and undeniable benefit they had in many Toronto neighbourhoods, I wanted to ensure we move quickly to take the lessons learned from our experience this summer and establish best practices and program guidelines for summer 2021."

Lead photo by

Hector Vasquez

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