City of Toronto opens registration for CaféTO plan to safely increase outdoor dining space for local restaurants and bars

Today, Mayor John Tory announced that the City of Toronto is opening online registration for CaféTO.

A City staff report on CaféTO, scheduled for consideration at Executive Committee on June 22, proposes the City take quick action to make way for additional safe outdoor dining spaces for local restaurants and bars. A simple online registration form and guidebook for the proposed program is now available at

Restaurants and bars, along with their patios, remain closed for dine-in service due to provincial orders and public health recommendations. Restaurants with existing patios can open them once provincial orders are lifted and as long as they follow public health guidelines. If approved by Executive Committee, followed by Toronto City Council later this month, the CaféTO recommendations would make it easier for many restaurant and bar owners to open patios, expand them, and access additional space for physical distancing, in accordance with public health guidelines.

The proposed report recommends City staff work closely with qualifying local restaurant and bar operators to establish options for café configurations within the right-of-way, while also temporarily pausing certain bylaw elements for the 2020 patio season to ensure:

  • 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 and
  • accessibility and physical distancing requirements are met.
Local restaurants and bars can begin the process to register for the proposed new program to better understand requirements and start planning. Opening registration, including providing a new, straight-forward guidebook containing patio placement requirements for approved restaurant and bar operators, represents an important step in preparing for future direction by City Council. Staff continue to prepare now so the City can act quickly to help many qualifying restaurants and bars generate revenue this summer.

A cross-divisional action team from Toronto Public Health, Transportation Services, Economic Development, Municipal Licensing and Standards, City Planning, and Strategic Communications has been overseeing program development to ensure it’s made available as soon as possible, pending committee and council consideration. Members of the group have been working closely with the Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas (TABIA), restaurant associations and other key stakeholders to urgently navigate all possible considerations while anticipating issues.

The CaféTO staff report is available at

Sidewalk cafés and marketing displays bylaw (Chapter 742) is available at


“One of the keys to Toronto’s economic restart and recovery will be making sure we do everything we can to help our restaurants and bars thrive. We need to protect jobs, bring vibrancy back to our streets and help create enjoyable experiences for residents and visitors. Cities around the world have embraced similar approaches to encourage more patio space. Given the ongoing threat of virus spread and the need to keep customers and employees safe, CaféTO is another comprehensive, quick-start program that will help many local restaurants and bars to stay in business.”

- Mayor John Tory

“There’s no question that Toronto’s vibrant patio culture plays an important role in our economic and social vitality over the summer months. As we reopen our main streets and their restaurants and cafes following the devastating COVID-19 shutdown, we want to do everything we can to provide a boost to the thousands of restaurants and bars in our city who are struggling with severe financial pressures. By offering innovative and expanded customer service opportunities to neighbourhood culinary businesses, CaféTO is an important contributor not only to our main street food and beverage industry, but the social and cultural fabric of our neighbourhoods.”

- Deputy Mayor Michael Thompson (Ward 21 Scarborough Centre), Chair of the Economic and Community Development Committee

“The CaféTO program will provide restaurants and bars opportunities to safely expand into the public right-of-way which will allow for better physical distancing and give them a chance to use that space to generate revenue. It is our goal to cut red tape and help independent restaurant owners to expedite this process to attract past and new customers to their establishments. While traffic and pedestrian volumes remain low, maintaining accessibility requirements and protecting the movement of all, especially on sidewalks and in the curb lane is paramount. This program addresses those potential issues and more as we continue to use the available space on our roads to help our city recover sooner.”

- Councillor James Pasternak (Ward 6 York Centre), Chair of the Infrastructure and Environment Committee

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