Staff reports related to the Night Economy Review will be considered by the Economic and Community Development Committee on November 28 and the Planning and Housing Committee on November 30.

Licensing & Zoning for Restaurants, Bars & Entertainment Venues

The City of Toronto is reviewing the licensing and zoning regulations for restaurants, bars and entertainment venues – including nightclubs and live music venues – and exploring strategies to support and enhance Toronto’s Night Economy.

The City conducted the review to:

  • explore new ways to activate space and enhance livability for everyone who works at night or is interested in cultural or social experiences after dark
  • create strategies that promote safe and enjoyable communities for all
  • update the definitions, rules, and licensing for bars, restaurants and entertainment venues
  • change regulations that define where these businesses can operate in Toronto

To inform the review, the City is sought feedback through targeted industry engagement, public consultations and a survey to: 

  • Clearly define and clarify the current licensing and zoning regulations for businesses that operate as restaurants, bars, nightclubs or live music venues
  • Provide opportunities for business owners, patrons, and residents to share their expertise, insights and general feedback
  • Generate discussion to better understand the issues impacting nighttime businesses and the needs of people who are active at night, including hospitality workers, shift workers, vulnerable populations, and those visiting cultural venues, stores, recreation facilities, and other businesses open at night

In March and April 2023, the City hosted public consultations to provide opportunities for people to share their ideas and an online public survey was posted.

On June 5, City staff shared what was heard during these consultations including general themes and high-level survey feedback.


On September 6 and 7, the City hosted two virtual meetings to gain insights and feedback on how bars, restaurants, and other entertainment venues – including nightclubs – are defined, licensed and zoned in Toronto.

Proposals included:

  • Implementing activity-based licensing for food and entertainment businesses
  • Updating licensing and zoning definitions and requirements for live music venues, bars, restaurants, retail food stores, nightclubs, arcades and places of assembly
  • Increasing permitted entertainment space in bars and restaurants
  • Expanding where nightclubs can be located outside the downtown area

Download the summary of proposals  PDF that were discussed during the sessions.

In 2018, the City began reviewing the licensing and zoning regulations for restaurants, bars and entertainment venues in response to directives from City Council, and recommendations from the Auditor General.

This work included background research, data analysis, a review of regulations in different cities, and preliminary stakeholder consultations. However, this review was delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Recognizing that the pandemic has negatively impacted the restaurant, bar and entertainment industries, the City has prioritized the review of relevant zoning and licensing regulations, to ensure that they are consistent, and reflective of emerging business models in the dining and entertainment sectors.

In December 2021, a staff report was presented to Executive Committee that introduced a framework to update licensing and zoning regulations for restaurants, bars, and entertainment venues, to better support an inclusive social nighttime culture in Toronto and to gather insights and make recommendations for its night economy advisory bodies. The report outlined recommendations for next steps including public and key stakeholder consultations that were held from March to June 2023.

Insights and experiences from these consultations will inform strategies for enhancing Toronto’s night economy, as well as zoning and licensing recommendations and proposed bylaw amendments for Committee and Council consideration in November 2023.

Additional Information

This review intersects and complements other ongoing City initiatives for restaurants, bars and entertainment venues, including:

Night Economy Review Staff Reports and Public Consultation Summary

Three separate but related staff reports will be considered by the Economic and Community Development Committee on November 28 and the Planning and Housing Committee on November 30.

 Previous reports

Other relevant reports

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