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It’s no secret that we’re currently living through one of the most trying winters on record. Still, we could all be feasting on patios as early as May if Mayor John Tory’s executive committee and city council approve a motion to bring back a revitalized version of Toronto’s popular CaféTO program.
Last June, Toronto launched the CaféTO program to help bars and restaurants struggling after a ban on indoor dining. The program allowed establishments with permits to increase their patio space or set up patios on curbs and sidewalks. CaféTO was a huge success, with a total of more than 800 participating restaurants and bars by the end of the summer.
On January 20, Mayor Tory announced plans to expand the CaféTO program for 2021. The mayor also wants to implement an easier registration process and begin the program earlier than last year. “The first approved CaféTO curb lane closure locations for 2021 could be installed as early as May -- almost two months earlier than last year,” according to a City of Toronto press release.
The mayor’s executive committee must now approve the motion, which will then be reviewed by city council in February. Any plans, though, are contingent on Toronto’s COVID-19 levels dropping low enough to allow outdoor dining.
“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 Mayor Tory on Wednesday. “Keeping CaféTO and making it better is the right thing to do.”