Toronto City Council approves CaféTO plan to safely increase and quickly expand outdoor dining space for local restaurants and bars

June 29, 2020

The City of Toronto announced today that the CaféTO report, which directs the City to take quick action and make way for additional safe outdoor dining spaces for local restaurants and bars, was unanimously approved with amendments by Toronto City Council. It’s expected the first CaféTO locations will be in place on July 1.

CaféTO will ensure that accessibility and safety are not compromised while making 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.

While restaurants and bars remain closed for dine-in service due to provincial orders and public health recommendations, existing outdoor patios began opening last Wednesday, in accordance with public health guidelines as part of the Province of Ontario’s Stage 2 restart plan.

Registration for CaféTO is still available for local restaurant and bar owners to better understand requirements and plan. A simple online form and guidebook for the program, as well as details for a free online information session, hosted tomorrow (Tuesday, July 30) from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. by City staff, can be found at

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. 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.

As part of Council direction, certain bylaw elements for the 2020 patio season have been paused 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.
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. 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 full CaféTO staff report is available at

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


"We are doing everything we can as a municipal government, as soon as we can, to help restaurant and bar operators open safely for the summer. I am thankful for how diligent City staff have been in working together, across divisions, to create a simple framework to deliver this program quickly. It is one way we are supporting businesses so that they can stay in business, while doing what we can to help keep thousands of Toronto residents employed."

- Mayor John Tory

"CaféTO will expand Toronto's patio culture and help bring people back to our main streets safely. More outdoor space for our restaurants and bars in our streets, sidewalks and parks, will animate our city while maintaining safe physical distancing and enabling one of our hardest hit industries to recover and contribute to the City's economic rebirth."

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

"Restaurants are crucial to the hospitality industry and the city must do what it can to make this part of our economy thrive. The CaféTO program has been designed thoughtfully so as not to compromise accessibility. It prioritizes safe movement of pedestrians, cyclists and vehicles, that may need access to the sidewalk clearway space or curb lanes and considers the need to help local restaurants and bar owners be successful as they reopen under new health and safety and service protocols. Through this program, qualifying businesses have the opportunity explore the possibility of using every bit of space available to them, including some parks space."

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

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