November 9, 2023
Yesterday, Toronto City Council made two city-wide zoning bylaw amendments permanent that will allow local restaurants and bars to continue using more spaces on private property for outdoor dining. Council also expanded the use of eligible patios on private property to ensure they can be activated for entertainment such as performances, music and dancing.
With these changes, including year-round and seasonal CaféTO patios that allow for sidewalk and curb lanes, the City of Toronto has enabled more space for outdoor dining than has been available ever before.
To help local businesses recover from the pandemic, temporary bylaw changes were made in 2020 to allow local restaurant operators to expand patios into other areas on private property that would not normally be allowed (such as parking lots). This enabled restaurant operators to increase outdoor dining space, generate more revenue and protect jobs. Those temporary zoning amendments were set to expire at the end of this year. The ability to activate parts of the space for entertainment is new and contributes to more welcoming, vibrant and social experiences for all.
Council also adopted several site-specific updates to enable the continued use of patios that have previously performed well. For example, the site on 229 Richmond St. W. is a large multi-purpose outdoor patio with recreational uses that benefit the community including use of the volleyball court, pickleball court, an ice rink and a small entertainment area for live music. Additionally, Council voted in favour of identifying patios that no longer require special consideration to operate.
Enabling more private space to be used for permanent outdoor dining complements the successful and transformative CaféTO sidewalk and curb lane program streams that allowed more than 1,000 businesses to offer their customers outdoor dining on public property during the summer 2023 season. Earlier this fall, the City announced planned changes and improvements to the CaféTO curb lane café program for the 2024 season. More information about the CaféTO program and changes are available on the City’s website.
The changes approved by Council today reflect significant public consultation work performed by City staff to ensure that noise bylaws and visual privacy are maintained. For example, performances, music and dancing can only be on private patios that are along a major street and on the first floor of the business, and by design, entertainment must be kept to a manageable size. Changes also considered outdoor patio regulations from other jurisdictions.
Restaurant support programs by the City of Toronto
The City is enabling or directly delivering several supports, initiatives, grants and funding to help eligible local small businesses including restaurants and bars stay in business and generate more revenue.
Toronto’s diverse and vibrant restaurants and bars benefit from such programs as the:
Amplified Live Music on Patios program supports local musicians
The Amplified Live Music on Patios program – extended city-wide as a permanent element of CaféTO installations in 2023 – has continued to provide paid performance opportunities for local musicians while enhancing the outdoor dining experience for the public. More information about this program is available on the City’s website.
The report called, Review of Zoning Regulations for Outdoor Patios on Private Property, is available on the City’s website.
“By this time next summer, thanks to today’s zoning changes, Toronto will have an abundance of outdoor patios for residents and visitors to enjoy. Toronto is one of the great outdoor dining cities in North America. By enabling more opportunities for people to gather in their communities, we’re demonstrating that we’re here to support small businesses and the restaurant industry.”
– Mayor Olivia Chow
“Whether you’re a local or a visitor, there’s nothing quite like enjoying a meal on one of Toronto’s hundreds of outdoor patios. These spaces generated significant revenue and protected jobs during a challenging time for the hospitality industry, and I’m glad that restaurant operators now have certainty that they can both continue to offer and expand these spaces next season. The bylaw changes announced today will help us support small businesses, boost our local economy, and make our city even more vibrant, day and night.”
– Councillor Shelley Carroll (Don Valley North), Mayor’s Economic Development & Culture Champion
“We must do everything we can to give local businesses and restaurants a chance to succeed and to thrive. Allowing for more outdoor patios on private property means more restaurants can welcome more diners, which is good for businesses. Local restaurants help define communities and ensuring they have every opportunity available to them to bring people in and to energize their space means they will continue to be a vital part of where they do business.”
– Councillor Chris Moise (Toronto Centre), Mayor’s Small Business Champion
Toronto is home to more than three million people whose diversity and experiences make this great city Canada’s leading economic engine and one of the world’s most diverse and livable cities. As the fourth largest city in North America, Toronto is a global leader in technology, finance, film, music, culture and innovation and climate action, and consistently places at the top of international rankings due to investments championed by its government, residents and businesses. For more information visit the City’s website or follow us on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.