Today, the City of Toronto announced program improvements for the City’s summer 2024 CaféTO patio season, pending Toronto City Council approval.
Mayor Olivia Chow was at Red Rocket Coffee on Danforth Avenue earlier today where she announced upcoming program changes and celebrated a successful 2023 CaféTO curb lane patio season. She was joined by Councillor Paula Fletcher (Toronto-Danforth), Councillor Shelley Carroll (Don Valley North), Tracy Macgregor, Vice President of Ontario, Restaurants Canada and John Kiru, Executive Director of the Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas (TABIA).
CaféTO, which was made a permanent City program this year, has transformed Toronto’s commercial main streets, revitalized neighbourhoods and supported hundreds of local restaurants and food suppliers, while protecting thousands of jobs during a very challenging time for the hospitality industry.
In 2023, CaféTO delivered approximately 1,000 places to dine outdoors in Toronto, including more than 330 curb lane cafés, 500 sidewalk cafés (which can remain in place throughout the winter), as well as dozens of patios on private property.
In 2022, CaféTO patios delivered approximately $203 million in economic benefits to the city (per a TABIA-led economic impact study).
City staff began removing the remaining on-street barriers and equipment for the 2023 curb lane patios last week, so that roads can be treated with brine and made safer when the first frosts hit.
Looking ahead to 2024
City staff are planning for a better and more streamlined CaféTO experience for restaurant operators and their patrons in 2024. The City is ready to:
Other improvements will include more streamlined business processes, improved communication with restaurants and, pending Council consideration, an ongoing review of City policies and regulations, as well as changes to zoning bylaws to make more private patios permanent and support additional revenue for businesses. All these improvements will be informed by ongoing discussions and engagement with program participants.
Proposed changes for the CaféTO 2024 curb lane patio season will be presented in a report to Council later this fall.
Amplified Music on Patios program supports local musicians
The Amplified Music on Patios program – extended citywide on CaféTO installations in 2023 – has continued to provide paid performance opportunities for local musicians, while enhancing the outdoor dining experience for the public. More information is available on the City’s Amplified Live Music on Patios webpage.
The City’s restaurant support programs
CaféTO is one of several City-led business support programs that help the local restaurant industry and the larger food supply chain. Toronto’s diverse and vibrant restaurants and bars benefit from such programs, including:
The CaféTO Property Improvement Program received 182 applications from restaurant operators in 2023. The program matches 50 per cent of the cost of eligible patio space improvements, including costs associated with renting, leasing or purchasing accessible temporary platforms, up to a maximum of $7,500. The Government of Canada, through the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario), funds the CafeTO TO Property Improvement Program as part of the Toronto Main Street Recovery and Rebuild Initiative. More information about this Initiative is available on the City’s website.
“Thank you to the many restaurant owners, Business Improvement Areas, workers and people who enjoyed CaféTO patios for continuing to embrace outdoor dining. These cafés bring vibrancy and energy to our streets. While there are many programs that support the restaurant industry here in Toronto, CaféTO is a visible and important program to many. I am committed to working with City staff to make whatever changes are necessary to ensure CaféTO reaches its full potential as soon as next year.”
– Mayor Olivia Chow
“CaféTO has been an invaluable asset to our city and to hundreds of local restaurants, cafés and bars that make Toronto vibrant day and night. In 2022 alone, CaféTO patios generated $203 million in economic benefits for the city. The changes announced today are the first step of many the City will take to support small businesses across Toronto, from the downtown core all the way out to the city limits.”
– Councillor Shelley Carroll (Don Valley North), Mayor’s Economic Development & Culture Champion
“The many cafés across Toronto bring a vitality and special flavour to their neighbourhoods that many locals and visitors can enjoy. The Government of Canada, through the Main Street Recovery and Rebuild Initiative, has been proud to support the CaféTO Property Improvement Program. This initiative is helping to ensure that local small business owners can grow, attract new clients and visitors, and reach their potential so they can contribute to a strong local economy.”
– The Honourable Filomena Tassi, Minister responsible for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario
“The 2023 CaféTO curb lane patio season was a success. We continue to hear from restaurants that CaféTO was a lifeline during COVID and beyond. I look forward to seeing the program evolve in 2024 with feedback from businesses and patrons alike. A big thank you to all BIAs that participated in the program and to all those Toronto residents who dined outdoors this season.”
– John Kiru, Executive Director, Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas (TABIA)
Toronto is home to more than three million people whose diversity and experiences make this great city Canada’s leading economic engine and one of the world’s most diverse and livable cities. As the fourth largest city in North America, Toronto is a global leader in technology, finance, film, music, culture and innovation and climate action, and consistently places at the top of international rankings due to investments championed by its government, residents and businesses. For more information visit the City’s website or follow us on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.