Toronto Mayor John Tory has endorsed a new plan to expand the CaféTO program in 2021. The new project will include easier ways for hospitality owners to register for the program and increase public parklet spaces and safety measures. The new plan also aims to make the application approval for setting up CaféTO installations faster.
The goal is to help restaurant and bar owners open outdoor spaces as soon as spring weather permits. The report indicates that the first CaféTO lane closures could be underway by May 2021. The city plans to work with bar and restaurant owners and Business Improvement Areas (BIA) to ensure that the new plan works for all involved.
Last year, more than 800 restaurants and bars participated in the CaféTO program resulting in more than 9,600 metres of traffic lanes converted into outdoor dining spaces. The new proposal also includes plans for the CurbTO program (temporary pick-up parking zones and pedestrian zones).
“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,” said Tory, in a press release. “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 and making it better is the right thing to do.”
According to the release, the new plan will cost the city $987,000 in consulting fees to develop traffic plans, review lane closures, procurement of equipment needed for lane closures and public seating, traffic analysis, and hiring additional city staff to oversee the program.
In a recent survey that included 2,800 hospitality owner respondents, 90 per cent wanted to see the CaféTO project’s continuation in 2021, and 66 per cent of respondents said that business would not have been sustainable in 2020 without the program.
The new report will be discussed at a meeting of the City of Toronto’s executive committee on Jan. 27.