Although there is a giant question mark over the next month or two, the city of Toronto has confirmed it is moving ahead with curb lane installations for its CaféTO outdoor dining program with construction to begin May 8.
“We know at some point, we will be able to reopen again and we want to make sure we are doing everything as a City to help businesses be ready to safely welcome customers at the earliest date possible,” said Mayor John Tory, in a press release. “They need these extra outdoor seats to start earning back revenue lost during the pandemic. Keeping these installations on track in May will ensure that the street patios are ready to go in hundreds of locations when public health officials determine the measures can change and outdoor dining can be allowed again.”
The CaféTO program allows for the creation of outdoor dining on Toronto streets for use by restaurants and bars that have signed up with the city. Installing these locations on schedule ensures that they will be immediately available to operators when public health orders permit outdoor dining.
It will take several weeks to get all the installations done, according to the city. At that point, restaurant operators will be asked to ensure the areas are not used for “congregation, public seating, or dining purposes” while the stay-at-home order is in place.
At this time, 720 curb lane cafés and 71 public parklet locations are being reviewed for placement during the first phase of installation.
“CaféTO was a vitally important program for many restaurant operators in Toronto last summer, and it will be just as important and just as urgent this year for restaurants across the city, including downtown and in suburban areas,” said Tory. “Traffic volumes remain significantly lower than normal and we need to be ready to support restaurant owners with street, sidewalk and parklet space as soon as health orders allow.”
According to the city, hundreds more applications have been received in the latest registration period which ended yesterday.
In addition, when provincial orders allow for outdoor dining, operators who register and are approved for CaféTO will be permitted to set up safe and accessible sidewalk cafés as soon as possible.
In 2020, CaféTO supported a total of 801 restaurants in 62 BIAs, as well as 96 restaurants outside of BIAs.