Councillor Josh Matlow

CaféTO and CurbTO: Supporting Small Businesses & Creating Vibrant Main Streets

Last spring, I began advocating to City Staff on the exciting prospect of using curb lanes in Toronto for outdoor dining to address the indoor capacity restrictions restaurants and bars were facing due to the public health emergency. I was thrilled to see this initiative come alive and transform our streets into vibrant and safe spaces  this past summer. In fact, I believe many Torontonians are pleased to finally have a patio culture we’ve long envied in City’s around the world.

During 2020, over 250 locations in the city took part in the CurbTO program, which gave businesses and institutions the option of having expanded pedestrian queueing areas or temporary pickup parking areas. The CaféTO program was even more successful with 801 restaurants from 62 business improvement areas (BIAs) having either curb side patios or sidewalk patios approved and installed by the City.

At this week’s City Council meeting, City Staff proposed a number of enhancements to the 2021 rollout of the CaféTO program, which will begin in the late spring. In order to support businesses, there will be multiple registration periods, more flexibility in terms of materials and pre-constructed decks, along with improvements to accessibility of the patios. I have also moved a motion to ensure that more focus be given on improving safety of the curbside patios, along with improved materiality and design, based on the feedback I have heard from our community. You review the staff report and my motion at Council here.

You may also review the following news article to learn more.

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