patio toronto

Here's what Toronto is doing to make winter patios happen

Indoor dining is currently prohibited throughout Toronto thanks to modified provincial Stage 2 restrictions, so the city is working on a plan to ensure restaurants can provide outdoor dining to customers all winter long.

Earlier this summer, the city introduced the CaféTO program as a way to help restaurants and bars create and expand patios through an expedited process, including on sidewalks, private property, rooftops and in curb lanes. 

Mayor John Tory said yesterday that all curb lane patios will soon, unfortunately, have to come down to allow for inevitable snow clearing, but a list of new winter dining recommendations put forward by Tory aims to ensure that all other patio types can remain — and be usable —throughout the season. 

The list of recommendations includes extending the CaféTO program  from Nov. 16 to April 14, waiving the fees for any curbside café or frontage café, and authorizing Economic Development and Culture to work with Destination Toronto and all business improvement to support safe winter economy initiatives and promote the winter economy including BYOB (Bring Your Own Blanket) campaigns promoting winter patios.

Tory's executive committee unanimously approved the new recommendations at a meeting Wednesday morning, and they'll go to city council for final approval next week. 

"This is the right thing to do. We know winter is coming and we need to support winter patios as much as possible now. We need to give businesses the flexibility to operate where safe and possible through the winter months," said Tory in a statement.

"While we have some limitations with respect to patios in curb lanes and ensuring we can safely clear our roads from the snow, there are opportunities that allow us to continue the success of patios through the winter in areas, such as sidewalks and private property including parking lots."

These new measures are in addition to a previously-announced extension of existing zoning bylaw amendments, and the city also announced that portable heating devices, including fire-fuelled appliances like propane heaters, would be allowed on all outdoor patio types in Toronto about a month ago. 

Since temperatures first started to dip, local restaurants have also been introducing a variety of new features and measures to facilitate outdoor dining in the cooler weather, including putting up different portable domes and pods to shield diners from the elements. 

The Broadview Danforth BIA, meanwhile, announced today that they're launching Fall Thrill of the Chill, a program providing free thermal blankets to all outdoor diners in the neighbourhood.

"These recommendations approved today will allow us to continue the success of CaféTO through the winter and do our part to help a number of these businesses through this difficult time," said Tory.

"I am also engaged in continuous discussions with the industry itself, with our officials and with the other governments to further find ways we can help."

Lead photo by

Louis Cifer Brew Works

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