Toronto opens registration for 2022 CaféTO program

The City of Toronto has announced that it has opened registration for its extended 2022 CaféTO program and is now welcoming applications from restaurants and bars.

Operators in the city who are interested in expanding their outdoor dining space into the curb lane and onto sidewalks can register and apply through a new streamlined online permit application process that means businesses need only apply once for year-round expanded sidewalk cafés.

Registration for temporary curb lane cafés closes Saturday, April 2 at 11:59 p.m.

Pending any future public health orders, approved CaféTO curb lane locations would be installed as early as mid-May – in time for the May long weekend.

New for 2022, café operators are eligible for a matching grant of up to $7,500 to cover 50 per cent of the cost of their eligible property or site improvements related to curb lane café installations, sidewalk cafés, or patios on private property, through the CaféTO Property Improvement Program.

Meanwhile, the City has pledged this year to ensure that more restaurants across the city, e.g. in areas such as the east-end Scarborough, the west-end Etobicoke, and North York, are able to participate.

The hugely popular CaféTO program was introduced in June 2020 to help foodservice operations during the early months of the pandemic as fears grew over indoor dining. It provides more outdoor dining areas by making space in the public right-of-way available to bars and restaurants and by expediting the application and permitting process for sidewalk cafés and curb lane cafés in accordance with public health guidelines.

The initiative has been enthusiastically received by both the foodservice industry and the Toronto-area public and was renewed in February 2021.

It has since become a permanent initiative after the City approved a proposal supported by Mayor John Tory to make the program permanent through a “phased” approach and also waive fees for 20222 to give a further boost to hospitality businesses hit hard by COVID-19 restrictions. In summer 2021, the City had launched a public survey to gather feedback.It showed that 91 per cent of respondents believed that extended sidewalk and curb lane cafés should be allowed in Toronto in the future.

In 2021, CaféTO supported 1,213 restaurants with curb lane cafés. Of those, 1,055 were in BIAs and 158 were outside of BIAs. The program provided 940 restaurants with curb lane closures, which converted 12,000 metres (12 kilometers) of traffic lanes into new outdoor dining space for restaurants.

Restaurant operators are encouraged to add their restaurant to Destination Toronto’s, a free listing of Toronto restaurants that are open for safe takeout, delivery and patios as public health restrictions allow.

Image source: City of Toronto