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If you thought patio dining in October was hit and miss, just wait until February. This past Monday, Toronto City Council voted to extend the CaféTO program meaning that restaurants will be allowed to operate outdoor patios throughout the winter months.
Mayor John Tory recently recommended that the CaféTO program be extended to give restaurants more flexibility with regards to serving customers outdoors, as indoor dining is currently prohibited in the city. This week, the suggestion was approved by City Council, who also extended a bylaw that will increase the size limit of outdoor patios. Council also voted to waive fees for Winter CaféTO patios and to remove restrictions on patios placed in front of buildings.
“Winter is coming and we need to support restaurants by allowing winter cafes right now,” said Mayor Tory in a news release on Monday. “Sidewalk cafes and expanded private patio space are just a few ways we will support restaurants this winter and into the spring.”
The new winter patio program applies to sidewalk space along the curb and pre-existing private patios. Though the CaféTO program initially included the construction of temporary, curb lane patios, the city has declared that these must be taken down to allow for snow removal.
To help diners survive Ontario’s frigid winter temps, restaurant owners will be allowed to install portable heaters on sidewalk and private patios.
“The effects of COVID-19 have been felt throughout the industry,” continued Tory. “I will continue to encourage staff to come up with new and creative ways in which we can continue to support local restaurant operators while recognizing that we must maintain important safety and accessibility requirements.”