Toronto City Council approves CaféTO program changes and support for small businesses

Toronto City Council approved CaféTO program changes needed to make the popular program permanent and actions to support Toronto’s small businesses.

Council approved amendments to Chapter 742, Sidewalk Cafés, Parklets and Marketing Displays, which advance the transition of CaféTO from a temporary emergency response initiative into a sustainable program that makes Toronto’s streets more attractive, safe and accessible, while continuing to allow restaurants and bars to operate with expanded space outdoors.

To support CaféTO operators, the city will reduce all permit and application fees by 66 per cent this year. These fees, which were waived by Council between 2020 and 2022 to support the industry, will be phased in over three years with the full amount to be charged in 2025. Council has also asked staff to study creating an additional fee tier for businesses that do not have a liquor license or provide food service.

Updated fees for curb lane cafés and sidewalk cafés are designed to encourage co-investment with the city in the program from restaurant and bar owners while supporting the viability of the cafés in curb lanes and on sidewalks.

Toronto has supported CaféTO with more than $20 million in funding over the life of the program so far. A 2022 economic impact study from Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas (TABIA) found that the program delivered $203 million in economic benefits to the city in 2022, and that customers spent an estimated $179 million dining at CaféTO patios from May through September.

Through the CaféTO Property Improvement Program, $1,500,000 is now available to support operators with the cost of installing a temporary platform, an increase of $1,000,000 from the original $500,000 available.

This program will match 50 per cent of the cost of eligible patio space improvements, including costs associated with renting, leasing or purchasing accessible temporary platforms, up to a maximum of $7,500. 

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