The following is a list of topics to assist you in planning your special event in Toronto. Each section includes:
Event organizers are encouraged to contact the relevant City division and/or agency contacts directly when planning their event. For general questions, please contact Event Support at email@example.com or 416-395-0490.
311 Toronto provides access for residents, visitors and businesses to submit and track a service request, find information about City services or programs, and search for service requests in your neighbourhood.
Staff at 311 can provide information about festivals and events that are listed in the Festivals & Events Calendar.
Diverse communities and groups make up the population of Toronto. The City of Toronto values the contributions made by all its people and believes that diversity among its people has strengthened Toronto.
The City of Toronto is committed to building an inclusive society and providing an accessible environment in which all individuals have access to the City’s services and programs in a way that respects the dignity and independence of people with disabilities.
– City of Toronto Statement of Commitment to Creating an Accessible City, Toronto City Council (August 2009)
The City of Toronto supports the goals of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) and encourages all event organizers to make their events as accessible as possible to all members of the public.
The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) is responsible for regulating the alcohol, gaming horse racing and cannabis retail sectors in accordance with the principles of honesty and integrity and in the public interest.
Among many responsibilities of the City of Toronto Clerk’s Office is a role supporting event organizers and individual operators’ application for a temporary liquor licence.
Event organizers wishing to serve or sell alcohol at their event often require one of three types of temporary licences:
Event organizers must first determine if their event is public (e.g. open to the public) or private (e.g. by invitation only) and apply for the appropriate type of SOP.
If you are an individual or company seeking an SOP and are producing a public event (indoors or outdoors) during which alcohol is served or sold, you will require a letter of Municipal Endorsement from the City of Toronto’s Clerk’s Office. Most private events, charities, non-profits or events that are designated as municipally, provincially or nationally significant do not require a letter of Municipal Endorsement to support their SOP application.
Operators that have an existing liquor licence may choose to temporarily extend their outdoor premise on which they serve alcohol during an event (e.g. extending a patio on to a curb lane during a street festival). Individual operators (not the event organizer) must submit all applications. The City Clerk’s Office approves all a temporary extension of premises and the AGCO must be notified.
Note that the City Clerk’s Office approves the extension of the liquor licence only; any approvals required for building a structure, increasing capacity, permission to use the space, etc must be sought through the appropriate City division and/or property owner.
Operators that have an existing liquor licence may choose to temporarily extend the hours during which they serve alcohol indoors during an event. The individual operators (not the event organizer) must submit all applications. The AGCO approves all temporary extension of hours and the operator must also obtain a letter of Municipal Endorsement from the City Clerk’s Office to be submitted with their application.
The AGCO may require event organizers to notify other municipal divisions and agencies as a condition of the licence:
A fee schedule applies to SOPs
No fee for extensions of premise or hours
In general, amusement rides/devices are governed by the Technical Standards and Safety Association (TSSA) that administers and enforces public safety laws in the Province of Ontario. In order to have an amusement ride/device be considered for use at a special event or festival, event organizers must ensure ride owner and/or operator have the appropriate TSSA certification, licence and/or training and insurance.
Venues and facilities may also have restrictions and policies governing the use of amusement rides/devices. Contact the venue for further details.
City of Toronto Animal Services, part of Municipal Licensing and Standards, regulates animal welfare and well-being in Toronto. The Animals By-Law prohibits the possession of certain animals with no exception (note that service animals, as defined by the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, are not considered in the By-law). Animals are prohibited to be on display at events or festivals; however, there are some limited exceptions. There is no permit to possessing animals at an event or festival; event organizers are required to discuss possessing display animals at their event or festival with the City of Toronto.
Economic Development and Culture, Event Support Unit
The City of Toronto requires that all organization and individuals adopt the Human Rights and Anti-Harassment/Discrimination Policy Declaration Form as a condition of receiving funding, issuing of a permit or other support from the City.
If you are a grassroots organization/collective/artist and your event is one performance or one event with multiple performances, won’t draw more than 250 people, and doesn’t include regulated activities (e.g. selling or serving food), you might be eligible for an Arts & Music in the Parks Free Permit.
Toronto Building Division reviews permit applications, issues permits and conducts inspections in accordance with the Ontario Building Code, the City of Toronto’s zoning bylaws and other legislation.
Toronto Building can consult with event organizers on permit requirements for structures such as stages, tents and scaffolding.
As an event organizer you may need to retain your own engineers and professionals to advise of proper policies, provide structural drawing and other documents. Note that most rental tent companies will guide you and provide proper documentation.
Contact the Building Consultant in your area: Contact Toronto Building
A Business Improvement Area (BIA) is an association of commercial property owners and tenants within a defined area who work in partnership with the City to create thriving, competitive, and safe business areas that attract shoppers, diners, tourists, and new businesses.
Toronto has 83 BIAs across the city, representing over 45,000 members. Together, they generate millions in funding towards street and sidewalk beautification, marketing and promotional campaigns, street festivals, clean street/graffiti-removal campaigns, and crime prevention strategies.
The Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas (TABIA) is the umbrella organization of Toronto’s 85 BIAs.
Event organizers are strongly encouraged to engage the BIA to discuss the event and possible benefits and impacts to the neighbourhood.
Public safety is an important element of special event planning. The City of Toronto requires that organizers ensure their event designs include various methods for mitigating and managing risks associated with their event.
The Emergency Action Plan (EAP) form is designed to assist special event organizers in developing plans to respond to any emergency situations that may occur during their event, and how to link into the City of Toronto’s Emergency Response Structure.
The City of Toronto’s Emergency Response Structure includes emergency services provided directly to the public by Toronto Police, Toronto Fire and Toronto Paramedic Services. It also includes the support and coordination of all other City of Toronto and external agency responses (Transportation, Water, Public Health, Hydro, TTC, Public Utilities, Provincial and Federal Government, etc.) in accordance with the Toronto Emergency Plan.
Event organizers are required to complete an EAP as a condition of a City of Toronto location permit (park, civic square, street event, etc.). The completion of an EAP is not required for events with an expected attendance of less than 200 people.
Information from the EAP is reviewed by a City of Toronto team, which consists of staff from the Toronto Police Service and City divisions, in order to determine if the plan is appropriate to address public safety concerns for the event.
Filming at events refers to the event organizer capturing the onsite activities and/or participants in videos or photographs for promotional or archival purposes related to the event. The event organizer is not required to obtain a filming permit for these filming activities. Live media broadcasts also do not require a film permit. Organizers are encouraged to post notices of filming/photography at their event as a best practice to inform participants that their likeness may be captured by entering the event premises.
The City of Toronto issues film permits to production crews for filming for commercial purposes only and in alignment with the film bylaw.
Economic Development & Culture, Event Support Unit
The discharge of consumer fireworks for special occasions, outdoor open-air burning or outdoor flame effect or the display of fireworks, pyrotechnic or special effects are only permissible if a permit is obtained from Toronto Fire Services. Toronto Municipal Code Chapter 466, Fireworks regulates the sale and discharge of fireworks within the City of Toronto, and the Ontario Fire Protection and Prevent Act, Article 220.127.116.11 regulates open-air burning.
Exceptions to the By-law and Act require approval from Toronto Fire Serivces and a permit.
Many City venues, such as civic squares and parks, prohibit the use of fireworks and open flames. For privately-own property or venues, event organizers should consult the owners, receive written approval, and apply for a permit from Toronto Fire Services.
Ward 6, York Centre; Ward 8, Eglinton-Lawrence; Ward 15, Don Valley West; Ward 16, Don Valley East; Ward 17, Don Valley North; Ward 18, Willowdale
General Line: 416-338-9150
Ward 14, Toronto-Danforth; Ward 19, Beaches-East York; Ward 20, Scarborough Southwest;
Ward 21, Scarborough Centre; Ward 22, Scarborough-Agincourt; Ward 23, Scarborough North; Ward 24, Scarborough-Guildwood; Ward 25, Scarborough-Rouge Park
General Line: 416-338-9250
Ward 9, Davenport; Ward 10, Spadina-Fort York; Ward 11, University-Rosedale; Ward 12, Toronto-St. Paul’s; Ward 13, Toronto Centre
General Line: 416-338-9350
Ward 1, Etobicoke North; Ward 2, Etobicoke Centre; Ward 3, Etobicoke-Lakeshore; Ward 4, Parkdale-High Park; Ward 5, York South-Weston; Ward 7, Humber River-Black Creek;
General Line: 416-338-9450
Email: TFS_Events@toronto.ca, attention to District Chief Special Events, Planning and Projects
Emergency medical care is an important aspect in planning a special event.
Toronto Paramedic Services (TPS) are specialists in event medical support for a range of events, including festivals, concerts, parades and motor vehicle races. TPS assists the event organizer in identifying event-related medical risks and developing measured solutions to prevent, mitigate and respond to medical incidents.
Toronto Paramedic Services is the authority having jurisdiction for the City of Toronto that is legislated by the Ambulance Act of Ontario. As the sole Paramedic service provider for the City of Toronto, event medical support can include, but is not limited to, on-site ambulances, bike paramedics, gator paramedics, and/or a field hospital staffed by paramedics, nurses and physicians that is monitored by the Toronto Central Ambulance Communication Centre.
Public and worker safety is your number one priority. Toronto Paramedic Services along with partner City divisions can help you achieve a safe and successful event.
Event organizers may choose to hire a private company that provides first aid/onsite medical services.
Toronto Paramedic Services
Website: Toronto Paramedic Services
Toronto Public Health (TPH) provides programs and services to prevent foodborne illness. For events that feature food and beverages (non-alcoholic), TPH may assist with: providing consultation, inspecting food vending booths, reviewing the plans for sanitary disposal of waste, tobacco control, drinking water safety, environmental issues (dealing with health hazards), communicable disease control, complaints related to food and suspect food poisoning investigations.
Event organizers are responsible for knowing what is required of them and of their food vendors to keep the event food-safe and minimize the risk of food borne illness.
Toronto Public Health
Public funders have the ability to offer grant programs to not-for-profit or charitable organizations. Program requirements, due dates and available funding depend on the specific program and can vary from year to year. In general, a public funder will only fund a minority percentage of an event, so other sources of revenue must be obtained.
Event organizers are encouraged to research grant programs and check the administering organization’s website frequently to understand if their organization or event meet the criteria, and to submit the application on time.
The City of Toronto offers limited grant programs to the organizers of special events. In addition, the Government of Ontario, Government of Canada and related agencies have a variety of grant programs.
City of Toronto Grants, Incentives & Rebates
Website: City of Toronto Grants, Incentives & Rebates
The City of Toronto City Clerks Office issues lottery licences and permits to eligible non-profit, charities and religious organizations for lottery games such as bingo or raffles.
As part of the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) regulatory responsibilities in the charitable sector, the AGCO administers, in partnership with municipalities, the regulatory framework governing the issuance of charitable lottery licences. The AGCO and municipalities work together to ensure that the legal requirements, including terms and conditions of the licences, are complied with by lottery licensees and any gaming suppliers used by the charities.
Depending on the type of lottery event organizers may be required to engage with the City Clerk’s Office and the AGCO.
As a part of a Street Event permit, Special Event park permit, and permit for civic squares event organizers must create, submit a waste management plan. The plan can consist of City Solid Waste Management services and contracted waste management services. The plan must be submitted for approval to the Solid Waste Management team.
Event organizers must consider the type and amount of waste their event will generate. They are responsible for the cleanup and removal of garbage and debris and restoring the public right of way to its original condition. Failure to restore the public right of way to its original condition will result in the City taking responsibility for the clean-up and the applicant held responsible for all fees incurred.
Solid Waste Management Services
Phone: 416-392-7171 or 416-392-7745
Destination Toronto, originally incorporated in 1926 as the Toronto Convention and Visitors Association, is a non-profit mission-driven organization with over 750 members, made up of businesses and organizations that embody and support Toronto’s visitor economy. The strategic and financial direction of Destination Toronto is overseen by a volunteer Board of Directors.
Destination Toronto’s mandate is to reflect the breadth and diversity of Toronto’s people, places and culture to inspire residents and visitors to meet, visit and explore our city. Operating in partnership with the City of Toronto, the Greater Toronto Hotel Association and the Ontario Ministry of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries, Destination Toronto markets and promotes the city to global travelers, attracts and supports major meetings and events, and supports local businesses to maximize the opportunities of visitor spending.
A standard requirement of hosting a special event is obtaining insurance coverage. Insurance can cover many aspects of the event, from liabilities to cancellation to emergencies. Event organizers are responsible for the participants and audience members taking part in your event.
Applications for city facilities, civic squares and road closures all required the event organizers to obtain a minimum of $2 million in liability insurance, some venues require $5 million. The amount of insurance can also depend on your activities (e.g. high performance sport to local family fun fair).
Insurance coverage is provided by private insurance providers.
As a part of your event, you may want the City of Toronto to recognize your event in a formal way. The City of Toronto, City Clerk’s Office, Strategic Protocol and External Relations (SPER), prepares official documents from the Mayor and City of Toronto (letters of greeting, congratulatory scrolls and proclamations) and reviews requests for flags raised on courtesy flag poles at City Hall, Scarborough Civic Centre and North York Civic Centre.
SPER also oversees the City’s ceremonial events, visits, courtesy calls and corporate awards, and can advise on matters of protocol including how to address the Mayor and Councillors, speaking order, invitations and more.
The Noise By-law provides standards for noise in Toronto. This includes decibel limits and time restrictions for some types of noise. Noise Exemption Permits can be requested for events or activities that may exceed the limits in the Noise By-law, such as special events that feature amplified sound, like concerts or other use of loud speakers.
Event organizers are responsible for ensuring the event complies with the Noise By-law. Alternatively, event organizers can seek an exemption to the By-law.
The Noise By-law – without an exemption:
The Noise By-law – with an exemption:
The sound emitted from any equipment shall not exceed a sound level (expressed in terms of Leq for a ten-minute period) of 85 dBA when measured 20 metres from the source. With an Exemption Permit, the specifications are different and it specifically mentions the source. The noise levels must be within 85 dB(A) when measured 20m from the source over a 10min period.
If you are on a large site with multiple speakers, the measurement will be taken from the speaker/s closest to
the perimeter of your event.
In general, there are no time restrictions with an exemption; it is the decibel limit of 85 dB(A) that is important.
The following areas may also be applicable:
Toronto Parks, Forestry & Recreation allows not-for-profit and charitable organizations to use parks and community recreation centres for special events, provided they meet all criteria and regulations.
If your gathering or event includes:
your booking is a special event. If your event doesn’t include any of the above, you can book one-time use of facilities. This includes photo shoots, meetings, kitchen, fire pit, BBQ or oven.
For-profit, commercial or non-recreation groups are allowed in designated parkland across Toronto
Permits, Parks, Forestry & Recreation
The following areas may also be applicable:
Special events (including conventions, expos, shows, and fairs) in the City of Toronto that offer personal services on-site must comply with infection prevention & control guidelines and with all applicable sections of the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, Infection Prevention and Control (IPAC) Best Practices for Personal Services Settings (PSS) document (January 2009), under the Health Protection and Promotion Act, R.S.O., 1990.
BodySafe is Toronto Public Health’s (TPH) safety program that inspects personal service settings (PSS) including hairstyling and barbering, tattooing, micropigmentation, ear and body piercing, injectable personal services, electrolysis, manicure, pedicure, and aesthetic services.
Event organizers are responsible for knowing what is required of them and of their personal service vendors to keep the event safe and prevent the spread of infections.
Toronto Public Health (TPH), Control of Infectious Diseases/Infection Control, Personal Services Settings Program
Public Health Inspector
Website: BodySafe – Special Events
Police assistance to support community events may be required depending on the size and scope of the special event. Event organizers should consult with Toronto Police Service (TPS) to determine the potential requirements.
Paid-duty officers (PDOs) are off-duty officers that are scheduled to perform certain functions related to public safety for an organization. Certain aspects of an event may merit PDOs, such as, but not limited to: public events drawing large crowds and/or serving alcohol, events requiring the closing of a road and events requiring redirecting traffic.
Event organizers planning to hold a demonstration or parade must inform TPS by completing and submitting via email, either a Notice of Demonstration or a Notification of Intent to Hold a Parade. Permits are not issued for demonstrations or parades by either the TPS nor the City of Toronto; however, a letter of acknowledgement may be issued by the TPS.
Event organizers must discuss the details of their event with TPS in an effort to promote public safety, and assist in effectively carrying out policing duties.
Toronto Police Service
The City of Toronto Signs By-law prohibits posters on public property, such as bus shelters, utility poles, litter containers and mailboxes. The City’s Municipal Licencing & Standards division enforces this by-law.
The bylaw does allow for posters to be placed on City of Toronto Community Kiosks and Public Message Boards throughout the City. Event organizers can use these approved locations to advertise their non-profit or community event. The Signs By-law outlines the regulations and specifications for the content and display of these posters.
Toronto Municipal Licencing & Standards By-law Enforcement
The following areas may also be applicable:
Event organizers wishing to erect temporary signage – including projections – in the public realm outside of their permitted event space require approval from the Economic Development & Culture (EDC) and Toronto Building Divisions. The Toronto Municipal Code (By-laws) regulates Temporary Signage and states: A temporary sign is one that is not permanently attached or fixed to a structure or surface.
In order to receive an exemption to the bylaw, event organizers must ensure that the focus of the signage is of the special event. Event logos and messaging should comprise at least 80 per cent of the total area of the sign. Any corporate sponsorship or partnership recognition on the sign must not exceed 20 per cent of the total area. Event organizers should also keep in mind that the placement or affixing of the sign or projection does not create a public safety hazard.
This regulation authority exists with an exemption in Chapter 694, Signs, General, which is enforced by Toronto Building, Sign Unit to allow temporary signs associated with special events that meet the required criteria and have the approval of EDC (Section 694-2 Scope, point 5). The Temporary Sign By-law is enforced by Municipal Licensing and Standards.
Economic Development and Culture, Event Support Unit
Transportation Services issues permits for the temporary closure of streets and sidewalks to facilitate special events and athletic runs or races.
The Street Closure Permit gives event organizers permission to have the street closed to vehicular traffic for up to four days as long as local access for residents and emergency vehicles is maintained during the event, in accordance with Municipal Code Chapter 743, Use of Streets and Sidewalks.
Event organizers are responsible for knowing what is required of them and of their suppliers in order to apply for a Street Event permit.
Event organizers must also be aware of the landscape surrounding their city street event location and note any public or private construction projects within and/or surrounding the event footprint.
Transportation Services, Right of Way Management Offices
Website: Transportation – Street Events
Toronto & East York District
55 John St., 17th Floor
Toronto, ON M5V 3C6
Etobicoke York District
Etobicoke Civic Centre
399 The West Mall, 3rd Floor, South Block
Etobicoke, ON M9C 2Y2
North York District
North York Civic Centre
5100 Yonge St., 4th Floor
Toronto, ON M2N 5V7
Scarborough Civic Centre
150 Borough Drive, 2nd Fl.
Toronto, ON M1P 4N7
As is required by the Streets Use By-law:
Refer to the topics listed below in the headings on this webpage. For additional information, links are provided below:
The City of Toronto’s Tourism Services unit offers services and information to help people enjoy and navigate Toronto – once here. They offer a variety of programs to support event organizers including:
City of Toronto Festivals & Events Calendar: Attracts over 1 million visits directly and is a free database feeding numerous independent event calendars and media outlets. Please submit your event in order to benefit from this calendar/database.
Union Station Tourist Information Centre: A year-round visitor information service, located in the west wing of Union Station (65 Front Street West). Please provide information/promotional materials on your event in order to benefit from this program.
INFOTOGO: Mobile visitor information kiosks that engage visitors and residents at events, festivals, venues and attractions city-wide from May to October each year. Please provide information/promotional materials on your event and if applicable arrange for an on-site presence in order to benefit from this program.
Toronto Map: Thousands of free maps are distributed each year. Request free paper maps for your guests or the electronic base map if creating your own mapping product.
The Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) provides public transportation in Toronto and encourages all event producers to promote public transit as a viable option for special event attendees.
Event organizers can advertise their event to transit-riders and to the community in a variety of ways:
Vehicle and Station Advertising, Digital Platform Screens
TTC Wi-Fi: TCONNECT
Contact and Website: Transit shelter advertising
The following areas may also be applicable:
The Toronto Transit Commission’s (TTC) first priority is to provide scheduled bus, streetcar and subway service. However, the TTC does take requests to utilize TTC vehicles as charters for shuttles or site seeing.
Charters are not permitted for surface vehicles during rush hour Monday to Friday, 6 to 10 a.m. and 3 to 7 p.m.
Toronto Transit Commission
The following areas may also be applicable:
The Toronto Transit Commission’s (TTC) first priority is to provide scheduled bus, streetcar and subway service. If your special event will impact TTC services, such as a change to a transit route or stop, or the utilization of buses instead of streetcars, you must receive approval from the TTC. Costs will be incurred by the event organizer to re-route TTC vehicles and pay for staff and notifications to transit riders of the service disruption.
The TTC, upon request, may increase or alter service (for example, add additional buses for more capacity) dependent on the nature of the event.
Toronto Transit Commission
The Municipal Licensing & Standards (MLS) issues various licences and permits for businesses, trades and professions as well as monitors these businesses and trades to ensure they follow all applicable municipal bylaws related to vending and selling merchandise.
Vendors that wish to sell goods (non-food or beverage) within a permitted event area (such as in a park, on a civic square, or on a road) must receive approval from the event organizer. The vendor may require a business licence to operate; however, the permission to be physically located within the event area is the responsibility of the event organizer.
Food trucks and ice cream trucks are also regulated by MLS. Operators may have a Road Allowance whereby they sell at a specific location year-round. Event organizers that plan events on a roadway must be aware of any operators with a Road Allowance on their footprint and contact MLS for further coordination.
If not involved with an event, vendors must contact Municipal Licensing & Standards to apply for the appropriate permit and/or licence.
Municipal Licensing & Standards
Website: Municipal Licensing and Standards – Permits & Licences
Toronto Water is responsible for delivering safe drinking water, collecting and treating wastewater, and providing storm water management services.
Event organizers are encouraged to offer potable water for staff, partcipants, artists, suppliers, etc. Toronto Water offers the HTO To Go program which consists of a mobile water trailer that hooks to a safe supply of potable water (usually a fire hydrant or connection to a water main). There are two mobile water trailers available for special events throughout Toronto. The season generally runs from May through September.
Toronto Water also monitors and enforces the Toronto Sewers By-law and the Toronto Water Supply By-law which outlines the proper disposal of wastewater from food vendors or other event activities. Event organizers are responsible for ensuring that wastewater is disposed of appriately. Catch basins (sewer grates) are only for rainwater and melted snow; wastewater should never be poured into catch basins. Wastewater poured of flowing into a catch basin in consider a spill and may result in enforcement of the Sewers By-law.
Toronto Water also provides permits for approved fire hydrant ussage associated with special events. Improper use of fire hydrants can cause hydrant damage or potential contamination of the drinking water.