Outdoor patios associated with restaurants and bars are often located on private property. The City of Toronto has enacted temporary use zoning by-laws to permit larger outdoor patios than would otherwise be permitted and to allow outdoor patios in parking lots.
If your outdoor patio proposal is located entirely on private property, complies with the zoning bylaw, and does not incorporate any structures that require a building permit (see tab 2 for a description of structures requiring a building permit), then you do not need to obtain City permission prior to the installation. You do not need City permission to install a modest fence or guardrail.
Outdoor patios on private property are regulated by the City’s zoning by-laws. Many of the zoning rules are intended to manage potential conflicts between outdoor patios and other nearby properties. Zoning permissions for outdoor patios can vary depending on the zone, unique circumstances of a property, or which zoning by-law is in force.
A restaurant, bar or café that is located in a mixed use, commercial or employment zone can usually operate an outdoor patio without any special zoning permissions. In most cases, your patio will need to meet the following rules:
You can install an outdoor patio on the ground that has an area up to 50% of the interior floor area of your establishment, or 50 square metres, whichever is greater. (If the patio is above the first storey – such as on a rooftop – the maximum size is 30% of the interior floor area of your establishment, or 30 square metres.)
An outdoor patio must be at least 30 metres from all properties in a residential zone. If the patio is located above the first storey (for example, on a rooftop), the required distance increases to 40 metres.
The outdoor patio can occupy parking spaces, if those spaces are not required for a residential use or are accessible parking spaces. The adjacent driving aisle between the parking spaces may also be occupied, provided it does not block access to other parking spaces.
An outdoor patio may not provide entertainment, such as performances, music or dancing.
If your property abuts a residential property, a fence must be installed along the portion of the outdoor patio parallel to the rear property line
These are general guidelines. If elements of your patio proposal are not addressed or you would like to find out if your proposed patio complies with the zoning bylaw, you can submit a Preliminary Project Review (PPR).
If your outdoor patio will incorporate additional structures like a raised platform, you may require a building permit and there may be zoning rules that prevent or regulate a structure or enclosure on a patio. There are also provincial Building Code regulations, fire safety regulations, and public health regulations that must be considered.
A building permit for a temporary tent is not required if the tent is:
You should discuss any proposal for a structure with the Toronto Building Division. They can also provide more information on building permits and regulations.
If you have a question regarding the requirements for a building permit, Contact Toronto Building by calling 416-397-5330 Monday to Friday 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Amplified and acoustic sound are prohibited on patios located on private properties. These outdoor patio may not be used to provide entertainment such as performances, music and dancing as per the Zoning Bylaw.
If your property is located on both private property and the public right-of-way, your outdoor patio will need to comply with the zoning bylaws.
Postcard: Download and print this easy-to-follow postcard on expanding private patios in Etobicoke, North York and Scarborough this summer.
Poster: Download and print this helpful poster about CaféTO options.