CaféTO, Toronto’s popular pandemic innovation that saw the patios of bars and restaurants spill onto sidewalks and roads, will become permanent if city council passes a proposal supported by Mayor John Tory.
TO city staff report Going to Tory’s executive committee next week, and then to the city council, suggests making the program permanent through a “phased” approach.
The report also advocates for the fee waiver for next year to give an additional boost to hotel businesses affected by the COVID-19 restrictions.
The hastily developed and enthusiastically received way of allowing pandemic-affected restaurants and bars to expand courtyards into new public and private spaces was launched in June 2020 amid fears about the risk of infection from indoor foods.
The City Council renewed the program for 2021 last February with a significant jump in the participating companies, most of them in the city center and its surroundings. “Public parklets” were created to give them additional space for customers.
While sidewalk patios will soon be removed to allow for snow removal, restaurants and bars are being invited to apply to try to keep their sidewalk patios open for winter dinners.
The new report envisions “CaféTO permanent sidewalk cafes starting in 2022” with a streamlined approval process that would have businesses apply only once, rather than annually, for “year-round expanded sidewalk cafes.”
Seasonal patios in curb lanes would return next May, but the report suggests that some locations may not return as vehicle traffic increases after the pandemic.
City staff want, by 2023, to create criteria for “permanent and seasonal use of curb lanes” flexible enough to accommodate “potential changes in the foodservice industry, as well as the changes in traffic patterns and street uses as a result of the recovery from the pandemic. ” over the next year. “
The city says that CaféTO this year is giving a boost to more than 1,200 restaurants, including 940 with sidewalk closures, totaling “more than 12 linear kilometers of public space allocated for alfresco dining opportunities.”
Mayor John Tory, in a press conference Wednesday, said CaféTO “changed the look of our city for the better” and received rave reviews from residents surveyed by the city.
“I would like it to include some permanent structures located on the street in suitable places,” added the mayor.
The report is sent to the executive committee next week and then to the city council meeting on November 9-10.