toronto patios

Toronto is about to come alive for the summer with hundreds of new patios

While this week's rain may have interrupted any plans you may have had to dine outdoors in Toronto in last few days, we are still in the middle of patio season — and it's about to get even better with the addition of even more spaces to visit.

The sidewalk and curb lane patios that came as a necessary innovation during the grueling months of pandemic lockdowns are coming back for the summer, and according to the city, will be mostly installed by the end of this weekend.

A news release states that all traffic safety equipment to help separate bar, restaurant and cafe terraces from the roadway for the CafeTO program will be in place by Sunday, June 18, and that as of Wednesday, June 14, around 90 per cent of it already is.

Approximately 500 permits for sidewalk patio spaces and hundreds more for curb lane spaces were granted for 2023, with applications (and appeals to fight rejected applications) continuing to come in.

But though residents can look forward to more exciting new options for grabbing a bite or a drink out in the sun, some businesses claim they've been let down by what was a far more restrictive, expensive and lengthy process for CafeTO licenses this year.

Multiple restaurateurs have taken to social media to mourn the fact that their applications were denied this month, despite their CafeTO patios being approved in recent years and causing no issues.

The city has assured the public that the pains of this year's more stringent procedures for approvals were for good reason, and that they will also make it easier for establishments to re-apply in the years to come.

"After three years of operating as a temporary initiative to assist restaurant operators impacted by COVID-19 restrictions, CaféTO is now a permanent program. New and updated requirements approved in February... ensure the continued benefits and sustainability of the program for restaurants while balancing a range of needs for residents and other businesses," its release reads.

"As part of this transition to a permanent program, city staff were required to conduct detailed reviews of curb lane café applications for the 2023 CaféTO season with input from a number of divisions. The detailed application reviews performed this year will enable quicker permit renewals in future years."

Lead photo by

Fareen Karim

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