patios toronto

Here's when Toronto's curbside patios could be opening back up

Even though 2020 was by all accounts the worst year ever in Toronto for obvious reasons, it was also perhaps the best year for at least one thing: patios.

The City introduced the CafeTO program, which upgraded the outdoor dining experience at our bars and restaurants, allowing them to easily enlarge their patio space onto sidewalks and into curb lanes to keep people physically distanced and try to make the most of the summer.

And now, Mayor John Tory is planning to bring the initiative back even bigger and better this year.

While CafeTO came to fruition quite quickly last year due to necessity, the City now has more time to consider the fine details of it, with Tory pushing for an easier registration process that would start as early as February, along with some other steps to make things move more smoothly — and quickly.

"The first approved CafeTO curb lane closure locations for 2021 could be installed as early as May, almost two months earlier than last year," the City says in a release about new enhancements to the program.

After patios were permitted to open as part of Stage 2 in June, more than 800 establishments took advantage of CafeTO by building completely new patios, or extending their existing spaces. Dozens of new parklets were also added.

It completely enlivened the city's streets, helped restaurants stay afloat, and was a resounding success after the dark months of lockdown that preceded it (and, unknown to us, would follow it).

As we all sit sequestered in our homes amid a stringent lockdown and miserable winter weather, at least we can have this one glimmer of hope for a better summer in a time when there seems to be little else to look forward to.

Lead photo by

Hector Vasquez

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