City of Toronto report outlines plan for bigger and better CaféTO program in 2021 to help local restaurants

Today, Mayor John Tory endorsed a new City of Toronto report that recommends an expanded CaféTO program starting this spring to help Toronto’s main street restaurants and bars during the ongoing pandemic.

The report, which will be considered at the meeting of Executive Committee on Wednesday, January 27, includes details about the CaféTO – a quick-start pandemic response program launched last summer – and outlines key findings and outcomes along with recommendations on how to ensure the program is bigger and better this year.

During the summer of 2020 when outdoor dining was permitted, CaféTO helped hundreds of restaurant and bar operators by making it easier to open patios in curb lanes and along sidewalks, expand them and access additional space for physical distancing. The space helped operators generate revenue and enliven nearby public spaces.

The report indicates that the City would again work closely with BIAs and local restaurant and bar operators and make the following enhancements including:

  • Updating the registration process so that it is even more clear and straightforward. Registrations would start as early as February.
  • Developing comprehensive and safe traffic management plans – to help make sure the curb lane cafés are as a safe as possible for people dining, employees and people using the road.
  • Supporting quick CaféTO installations – so that we can begin helping approved businesses as soon as possible once winter is over.
  • Allowing owner/operators to build decks and platforms for curb lane café areas, where applicable.
  • Ensuring there is accessible furniture for public parklet areas.
As described in the report, within a revised registration process and contingent on prevailing public health orders, the first approved CaféTO curb lane closure locations for 2021 could be in installed as early as May – almost two months earlier than last year.

The report also includes the outcomes of a City-led CaféTO survey. Approximately 2,800 respondents comprising restaurant and bar owners/operators and members of the public, indicated the following:

  • 95 per cent of respondents want to see CaféTO operate in 2021.
  • 90 per cent of those surveyed were very satisfied or satisfied with their patio experience.
  • 66 per cent of operators said their restaurant would not have been financially viable without CaféTO.
In 2020, CaféTO supported 801 restaurants in 62 BIAs, as well as 96 restaurants outside of BIAs. An additional 44 public parklets in BIAs were activated. The 439 curb lane closures converted 9,683 metres of traffic lanes into new outdoor dining space for restaurants.

The report also includes details about the CurbTO program – another quick-start pandemic response program. In 2020, 108 Curb Lane Pedestrian Zones and 154 Temporary Parking and Pick up Zones (TPPZs) were installed. As of January 5, 2021, 113 TPPZs are in place. The report calls for City staff to be prepared to work with health officials and local business owners to continue the CurbTO program in a way that best supports prevailing public health direction and guidance.

The full CaféTO and CurbTO – Pandemic Response Programs report is available at http://app.toronto.ca/tmmis/viewAgendaItemHistory.do?item=2021.EX20.6

Quote:

“The CaféTO program was a popular and successful quick-start COVID-19 response program that helped local businesses stay in business, helped protect jobs, and improved the quality of life in our city for residents. We heard from hundreds of operators and residents, and the overwhelming response was that operators who set up curb lane cafés, as well as those who dined in them, want them back this summer. Keeping CaféTO an making it better is the right thing to do.”

- Mayor John Tory

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