Today, the City of Toronto’s Executive Committee led by Mayor John Tory approved a plan that recommends making CaféTO permanent as well as waiving permit fees for the program again in 2022. The report will now be considered by Toronto City Council on November 9 and 10.
The staff report, CaféTO 2022 and Beyond, recommends CaféTO be made a permanent program that can continue providing support to local restaurants while also making city streets more vibrant for years to come. As part of the report, City staff are proposing to once again waive all application, transfer and permit fees for curb lane, sidewalk and parklet cafés in 2022.
The Executive Committee also asked City staff to report back on a plan to encourage additional outdoor dining opportunities and business supports (such as business grants and promotional programs) in suburban areas of Toronto including Scarborough, as well as a plan to manage underutilized café spaces. The Committee also approved a motion from Mayor Tory to look at more permanent structures, locations, and services in suitable CaféTO locations.
Designed as a quick-start program in 2020 to help provide outdoor dining space to local bars and restaurants during the pandemic, the popular program was approved by City Council to return in 2021 and saw a 51 per cent increase in participation when compared to 2020 registration.
This year, CaféTO is supporting more than 1,200 restaurants with expanded outdoor dining opportunities on streets and sidewalks, including 940 restaurants with curb lane closures, totalling more than 12 linear kilometres of public space allocated for outdoor dining opportunities. Sixty-nine Business Improvement Areas (BIAs) have had at least one restaurant participating in CaféTO this year and 158 participating restaurants are located outside of BIAs.
Public parklets were also installed to provide an increased amount of public space in café-saturated streetscapes. In 2021, there were 39 BIAs that participated in the public parklet program, with a total of 65 public parklets city-wide.
This summer, the City launched a public survey for restaurant operators, customers and the general public to gather feedback about CaféTO. The survey received more than 10,000 responses which showed that 91 per cent of respondents believed that extended sidewalk and curb lane cafés should be allowed in Toronto in the future.
As outlined in the report, City staff are recommending a phased approach toward a permanent and streamlined CaféTO program.
This report recommends a new registration process for future, permanent CaféTO sidewalk cafés starting in 2022. The new, permanent process would be fast and streamlined and, if approved, restaurant operators will only need to apply once for year-round expanded sidewalk cafés. Currently, existing temporary CaféTO sidewalk cafés can remain in place and available through the winter until April 14, 2022.
Approximately 500 restaurants city-wide already carry a permanent permit for a sidewalk patio, and in 2021, 429 restaurants opened a new, or expanded an existing, sidewalk café through CaféTO.
While the report recommends the return of temporary curb lane cafés next year, with installation starting as early as May 2022 and under similar guidelines and requirements from 2021, it also includes a recommendation to develop criteria for the permanent, seasonal use of curb lane cafés by 2023. This approach will help keep the program as flexible as possible in order to allow for adjustments related to potential changes to the food service industry, as well as changes to traffic patterns and street uses as a result of pandemic recovery over the coming year.
Read the City staff report, CaféTO 2022 and Beyond: http://app.toronto.ca/tmmis/viewAgendaItemHistory.do?item=2021.EX27.10.
Details about CaféTO, including how to register for a new sidewalk café, are available at www.toronto.ca/cafeto.
“The CaféTO program has been successful and popular and has helped hundreds of restaurants stay open, generate revenue and protect jobs through the pandemic. I am encouraged that members of the Executive Committee recognized the value and support that has been provided to local businesses through CaféTO. This is a good program for restaurants and residents, and I am committed to making sure it continues."
– Mayor John Tory