CafeTO patio

City of Toronto seeks to extend CaféTO program by allowing portable heaters on outdoor patios

In an attempt to maximize patio season this fall and provide further assistance for struggling restaurants, the City of Toronto has announced plans that will allow portable heaters, such as fire-fuelled appliances (e.g., propane heaters) on outdoor patios, including CaféTO sidewalks and curb lane closures.



Previously, numerous documents and applications were required for heaters on patios to be approved, but new guidelines for safe use of these appliances have been developed by Toronto Fire Services. For example, guidelines state that operators must only use heaters that meet federal and provincial safety requirements, installing and storing units per the manufacturer’s instructions, and removing heaters from the curb lane when the café is not in use.

“We are doing everything we can to support our local restaurant industry,” said Toronto Mayor John Tory in a statement. “I heard this request from the restaurant industry and took action to help allow portable heaters to safely keep CaféTO installations and patios warm, even in late October and November, to help extend the season. I want to thank city staff for working to find a way to make this possible to help restaurants as much as we can right now.”

In compliance with CaféTO safety and accessibility guidelines, tents and structures are still not permitted in curb lane closures.

CaféTO was created back in June to help the restaurant and bar industries restart from the effects of COVID-19 by providing additional outdoor space for physical distancing, leading to revenue generation throughout the summer months. The program made it easier for approved restaurants and bar operators to either expand existing or install new, patio spaces outside their businesses.

The program supports more than 760 restaurants across Toronto with increased dining capacity, including over 400 curb lane closures and sidewalk cafés, occupying more than 9,000 metres of the public right-of-way, as well as 44 parklets.

Pending weather, CaféTO will end in late fall, so the portable heaters are meant to make outdoor dining more appealing to patrons while encouraging physical distancing to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

Article exclusive to TRNTO