Last updated: November 23, 2020 at 11:15 a.m.

Provincial health orders currently do not permit indoor or outdoor dining in Toronto. The CaféTO program has been paused.

The Winter CaféTO program aims to provide more outdoor dining areas to help some restaurants and bars create physical distancing for patrons on patios. Winter CaféTO has been extended to allow cafes on the sidewalk through the winter to support restaurants with increased outdoor dining space.

A full Winter CaféTO guidebook will be made available soon when provincial regulations are made clearer. In the meantime, restaurants that follow this design guide can establish a sidewalk café.

Learn more about the guidelines for re-opening your restaurant, bar or other food service premise while indoor dining is prohibited in Toronto as part of provincial health orders. Per provincial regulation, operators are required to record the name and contact information of every patrons that enters a dining area, other than customers who are there temporarily for pick up or takeout orders.

To receive updates and information on CaféTO, sign-up for the BusinessTO newsletter.

Winter CaféTO is a part of the City’s ShowLoveTO initiative, launched in association with Founding Sponsor American Express and in partnership with Destination Toronto, to help Toronto businesses, neighbourhoods and residents safely recover and rebuild from the COVID-19 pandemic.

There is no registration required to participate in Winter CaféTO. Please follow the below steps to operate a sidewalk café as part of the Winter CaféTO Program.

Step 1:

Read the design guide to understand the rules about safe and proper placement of a winter sidewalk café to keep them safe and accessible.

Step 2:

Café operators must have copies of the following documents on hand and available to be presented upon inspection:

  1. A completed Certificate of Insurance*
  2. A completed letter of Municipal Non-Objection to serve alcohol and a copy of your liquor license.
  3. Written permission letter from the owner of an adjacent property, (if occupying sidewalk space in front of their business frontage)
  4. Written permission is required from your City Councillor if you are occupying space on a flankage/boulevard (on a local road) and don’t have an existing R57 permit.

*As the city is the owner of the property to which the new or expanded café is located, this insurance is for liability only, a risk you have already been assessed and insured for by your broker/insurance company.

Please read the Indemnification Requirements Clause before proceeding.

The success of the Winter CaféTO program depends on café operators understanding their winter maintenance requirement.

  • All operators installing cafés on the sidewalk as part of Winter CaféTO must remove all café materials (i.e. chairs, tables, heaters) from the sidewalk before a snow event that triggers sidewalk plowing. Sidewalk plowing commences at 2cm of snow accumulation.
  • Within 12 hours of a snowfall, café operators are required to clear snow and ice from their café area and the pedestrian clearway adjacent to their café area to ensure the space is safe, passable and accessible
  • Operators must also apply de-icing agents, like salt, to the pedestrian clearway and their café area.
  • Snow must not be moved into the pedestrian clearway or into the roadway, as this is in contravention with Chapter 719, Snow and Ice Removal
  • Winter CaféTO Operators can follow City’s Winter Operations on Twitter for up-to-date information about snow and ice clearing by the city

Tents and Other Similar Structures

A tent/structure may be permitted on private property if the following requirements are met:

  • An area that is covered by a roof, canopy, tent, awning or other element, must have at least two full sides open to the outdoors and cannot not be blocked by other walls or physical
  • A building permit is not required for a temporary tent if the tent is:
    • Less than 60 square metres in aggregate ground area
    • Not attached to a building
    • Constructed more than 3 metres from other structures (per Ontario Building Code)

Please Note:

  • Tents/Structures are not permitted in the right of way, including sidewalks.
  • Tents may not obstruct required exits from buildings nor obstruct any fire access route

Portable heating devices, including fueled heating appliances like propane patio heaters, will be allowed on all outdoor patio types in Toronto.

It is important that everyone read, understand and follow closely these safe operation guidelines from Toronto Fire Services.

Your portable heating appliance must:

  • Be certified by CSA/ULC
  • Meet the requirements of TSSA Act 2000
  • Be designed for outdoor use only
  • Have an anti-tilt feature that automatically shuts off the heater
  • Be free-standing, with a minimum height of 160 cm (65 in)
  • Table top heating appliances are not permitted

Do install your portable heating appliance:

  • On a non-combustible solid surface (i.e. not on grass or uneven sidewalk)
  • In windy conditions. Wind negatively impacts efficiency and can create a hazard if the unit is blown over
  • With a minimum of 1 metre (3 ft) clearance from the base of the unit to any combustible material

Do not install your portable heating appliance:

  • Under fire escapes
  • Within a means of egress or adjacent to an exit
  • Near a combustible structure
  • Adjacent to or otherwise obstructing firefighting equipment like fire hydrants or Siamese connections
  • Near or attached to trees, utilities or other street elements
  • If the electrical wires need to placed on the pedestrian clearway

Fueled Heating Appliances

If you choose to use a propane or other fueled heating appliance, please closely follow these specific safety guidelines:

  • Do not store the unit indoors
  • Keep a maximum of one (1) day’s supply of propane
  • on site
  • Storage of additional cylinders (including cylinders in cages) is not permitted in public thoroughfares or sidewalks
  • The maximum allowable propane tank size is a single 9 Kg (20) tank (approximately 10 hours of operation)
  • Do not move portable heater while the flame is open. Ensure the gas supply is properly shut off and the unit is cool before relocating
  • Follow all manufacturer safety requirements for the safe transportation, operation and storage of fuel
  • Each propane tank used must meet these requirements

Open Air Fires

  • Open air fires, such as fire pits are not permitted in the public right of way or private property

All questions regarding these guidelines should be directed to Toronto Fire Services at

Toronto Zoning By-law 569-2013 regulates outdoor patios on private property.  A Ministerial Zoning Order (MZO) eases some of the zoning restrictions.  Although the MZO expires on November 16, 2020, the Planning and Housing Committee will consider a Temporary Use By-law to replace the MZO on October 22, 2020.  You should read and familiarize yourself with the zoning regulations for your property before installing or expanding a patio on private property.

The MZO from the Province of Ontario eases zoning restrictions on outdoor patios while allowing for expanded patios on private property, including parking areas. The MZO describes area limits, restricts patios from being above the first storey of a building, and requires a patio to be set back at least 30 metres from a residential zone.

Physical extensions of liquor sales for an outdoor patio on private property are permitted under the applicable zoning bylaw, and no further action is required by business operators. However, the City may withdraw this permission if a business fails to comply with the applicable zoning bylaws or other applicable City by-laws, policies or provincial regulations.

Private patio operators are solely responsible for ensuring their patio meets accessibility (AODA) requirements, complies with the Noise Bylaw, meets fire codes and regulations, meets Ontario’s building code, meets public health orders and guidelines and any other regulatory requirements. Any conditions that apply to operations or bars (e.g. hours of operation) will apply to any expanded patio area.




Read the staff report on CaféTO which was approved by City Council on June 29, 2020 and the motion which extended CaféTO through the winter, which was approved by City Council on October 27, 2020.