Toronto city council has approved a plan to allow restaurants and bars to expand their patio space as they try to salvage businesses hit hard by the pandemic.
Council approved the plan, known as CaféTO, unanimously with amendments at its virtual meeting on Monday.
According to the city, the plan means local restaurants and bars can create additional outdoor dining spaces safely and without sacrificing accessibility.
The first CaféTO locations are expected to be in place on Wednesday in time for Canada Day.
The city said in a news release on Monday that CaféTO will ensure that restaurant and bar owners can open patios, expand them and make use of additional space while allowing for physical distancing, in keeping with public health guidelines to stop the spread of COVID-19.
Under provincial emergency orders, restaurants and bars are not allowed to offer dine-in service. But last Wednesday, existing outdoor patios could open as part of the province’s Stage 2 reopening plan.
“Work was done in advance to allow the city to act quickly and help many qualifying restaurants and bars generate revenue as soon as possible this summer,” the city said in the release.
“Opening registration for CaféTO early allowed city staff to work ahead with qualifying local operators to establish options for café configurations within the right-of-way and in parks space.”
Council paused certain bylaw elements for this year’s patio season to ensure the following:
- Rapid installation of permitted cafés while maintaining public safety.
- Access to restaurant and bar services and facilities for those dining outdoors.
- Permit and application fees are waived for approved cafés.
- Accessibility and physical distancing requirements are met.
The city said representatives from Toronto Public Health, Transportation Services, Economic Development, Municipal Licensing and Standards, City Planning, and Strategic Communications, have been overseeing the development of CaféTO.
City staff have also been working closely with the Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas (TABIA) and restaurant associations to figure out how the program can work, the city added.
Restaurant and bar owners can still register to gain a better understanding of the plan and its requirements.
An online form and guidebook for the program, as well as details for a free online information session to be hosted on Tuesday by city staff from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. can be found at http://www.toronto.ca/cafeTO.