Toronto council approves plan to expand outdoor dining spaces

Published On July 1, 2020 | By Abhinav Mendhe | COVID-19, News
Abhinav Mendhe
People enjoy drinks and food in the patio set outdoors, as Ontario enters Stage 2 of reopening from COVID-19 restrictions. (REUTERS/Carlos Osorio)

Toronto city council approved a plan to expand outdoor dining space for local restaurants and bars as Ontario enters Stage 2 of reopening.

The plan called CaféTO was approved unanimously in a virtual conference on Monday.

With the approval, restaurants and bars can create additional outdoor space while maintaining social distancing.

“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 has been in working together, across divisions, to create a simple framework to deliver this program quickly,” Mayor John Tory said.

“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,” he said.

Restaurants and bars are still not allowed to provide dine-in services, but patios are set to be open for outdoors under a provincial emergency order.

The CaféTO program intends to provide more outdoor dining space for bars and restaurants to create physical distancing for patrons on patios. (REUTERS/Carlos Osorio)

Work was done to quickly help qualifying restaurants and bars to generate revenue as soon as possible. Opening the registration early on helped the operators establish café configurations within rights-of-way and park space.

“CaféTO will expand Toronto’s patio culture and help bring people back to our main streets safely,” Deputy Mayor Michael Thompson said.

“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,” he said.

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The program development has been under the scrutiny of numerous city departments including Toronto Public Health, Economic Development, Municipal Licensing and Standards and City Planning.

The members of these departments are closely working with the Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas (TABIA), restaurant associations, and other stakeholders to navigate all considerations while tackling at-hand issues.

“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,” Ward 6 York Centre Councillor James Pasternak said.

“It prioritizes safe movement of pedestrians, cyclists and vehicles. Through this program qualifying businesses have the opportunity to explore the possibility of using every bit of space available to them, including some parks space, he said.

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