Monday's gloomy weather may not be what most Toronto residents have in mind when it comes to patio season, but that didn't stop the City from officially kicking off the CaféTO program.
For the third year in a row, construction crews are getting to work installing safety equipment and closing curb lanes to give Toronto's bars and restaurants additional outdoor seating areas. Created in 2020 to help Toronto businesses have safe outdoor dining areas, the program was an immediate hit and has maintained steady interest from local establishments.
More than 1,000 applications for curb lane and sidewalk cafés have been received by the City so far, with crews already working to install traffic safety equipment for more than 800 curb lane cafés in May. Additional installations are expected throughout the summer as more applications roll in.
“I am thrilled to welcome back what will be an exciting patio season in Toronto," said Mayor John Tory. "Over the past two years, the hospitality and entertainment industries were hit hard by the pandemic, but programs introduced by the City like CaféTO have helped provided much needed support to the industry."
The 2022 CaféTO season launched simultaneously with an expanded Amplified Live Music on Patios program. Now operating in eight city wards (up from four last year), Toronto residents will be able to enjoy outdoor live music on patios from now through November. Participating wards now include Beaches-East York, Davenport, Parkdale-High Park, Scarborough Centre, Spadina-Fort York, Toronto Centre, Toronto-Danforth and University-Rosedale.
“Our Main Streets will soon be filled with the joys of live music," said Councillor Brad Bradford. "As we head out to enjoy patio season once again, I am thrilled that Toronto’s Amplified Live Music on Patios program is back -- bigger and better -- for the warmer months ahead.”
The City is kicking things up once again this year with a brand new improvement fund for café spaces on private or City property. Dubbed the CaféTO Property Improvement Program, the initiative will match 50% of the costs for eligible improvements, excluding furnishings. Things that would fall into the eligible category include platforms or decking, fencing, accessibility improvements, and patio and decorative fence lighting. Grants for the majority of improvements max out at $5,000, but an additional up to $2,500 is available for accessibility upgrades.