Do you currently have approval to operate a sidewalk café? Your sidewalk café approval has been extended to August 31, 2022. You need to apply for a permanent sidewalk café permit to operate after August. Submit your application at least 6 – 8 weeks in advance to have your permit in time. Download the Sidewalk Café Application Guide to make sure you submit a complete application as incomplete applications will not be processed.

Sidewalk cafés, formerly known as boulevard cafés, are outdoor eating areas located on sidewalks where food or drinks is served to the public by a licensed eating or drinking establishment.

In April 2022, City Council extended the approval for sidewalk cafes allowed by the CaféTO program in 2021, from April 14, 2022 to August 31, 2022. The permanent permitting process for sidewalk cafés has been reinstated this year, which means that businesses with a sidewalk café need to apply for a permanent sidewalk café permit to operate after their approval expires on August 31, 2022. All application, transfer and permit fees continue to be waived in 2022.

The City has been receiving a number of incomplete applications for sidewalk café permits. Please review the application requirements and submit a complete application as soon as possible to ensure that you receive your permits on time. Applications will not be processed unless all the required documents are provided.

New for 2022, café operators are now eligible for a matching grant of up to $7,500 to cover 50 per cent of the cost of eligible property or site improvements related to curb lane café installations, sidewalk cafés or patios on private property, through the CaféTO Property Improvement Program.

Frontage Cafés

Sidewalk cafés that are located immediately adjacent to the front wall of the associated establishment.

Frontage Cafés on Local Streets (Flankage Cafés)

Some sidewalk cafés may be located on designated local roads (i.e. residential roads). These may either be on the front (frontage) of a business located on a local street or on the side (flankage) of a corner unit.

Curbside Cafés

Cafés that are located along the curb between the sidewalk and the road. Pedestrians walk between these cafés and the building frontage. Wait staff cross the pedestrian clearway to deliver food and beverages to these cafés.

Parklet Café

A type of sidewalk café that is a temporary lateral projection into the curb lane or parking lane of a street.

Individuals, partnerships or corporations with a valid municipal business licence where food and drinks are served can apply for a sidewalk café permit.

Prior to submitting an application, please review the Sidewalk Café Application Guide which includes details on the bylaw requirements for sidewalk cafés. Please note, all measurements must be in metric.

Please submit a complete application as applications will not be processed unless all the required documents are provided.

All applications must include:

  • A completed and signed Sidewalk Café Permit Application Form
  • One piece of valid government issued identification for an officer or signing authority (for corporations), who appears on the Primary Business Licence
  • Proof of at least $2,000,000 of comprehensive insurance against loss or damage resulting from bodily injury to or death of one or more persons, or from loss of or damage to property resulting from any one accident
    • The completed Certificate of Insurance must be signed and stamped by the insurer
    • The Certificate must be filled out by the Insurance Representative and may be sent through email directly from the Insurance Representative OR by the client through the online portal here.
  • Three photos of the location; one from the front and the others from each side of the sidewalk (see application guide for photo requirements)
  • A copy of your site plan drawing, in accordance with the requirements set out in the application guide (see application guide for sample drawing and requirements)
  • A copy of your fencing (or planters) drawing (see application guide for sample drawing and requirements)

Additional supplementary materials may also be required as below.

Awnings

An awning is a removable or retractable unenclosed temporary structure attached to the building wall that covers a café area. Please check with Toronto Building if your installation requires a building permit.

If you are applying for an awning for your front or side café (awnings are not permitted for curbside cafés), submit:

  • Detailed drawings of the awning location, design dimensions and mechanical specifications for its framing, mounting and materials (see application guide for measurements and drawing)
  • A certificate indicating the Fire Proof Rating of fabric/materials (see application guide for sample)
  • Applicable permit approvals from the Chief Building Official, Heritage Preservation Services (if your building is on the Heritage Register)

Cafés on local roads

If you are operating a café on a local road, a visual screen is required to screen your café from the residential properties. You must submit a copy of your visual screen drawing with your application.

Alteration of area or building

If the proposed café area needs to be paved, landscaped or physically altered, an application must be submitted for a Landscape Construction Permit.

If you are making changes/alterations to the building to accommodate the café installation, submit your approved Building Permit from the Buildings Division.

Expanding in front of neighbouring property

If you are expanding a sidewalk café in front of the neighbouring property, please submit a letter of approval from the property owner or tenant.

Applications need to be submitted online. You cannot apply for this licence/permit in-person.

You can submit application documents and complete payment in one convenient online system.

Please submit a complete application as applications will not be processed unless all the required documents are provided.

Apply online

Please have all required documents ready to upload before starting the application, as it requires 10-15 minutes to complete and cannot be saved. Download a step by step guide on how to submit a new application.

Submit Application

If you have already submitted an application you may upload additional documents using your upload token.

Upload Documents for Existing Request

Application fees

The application fee has been waived for 2022.

There are no application or permit fees for small frontage cafés, which are no more than 0.8m x 5.5m and must meet pedestrian clearway of 2.1 metres.

Permit transfer fees

Existing permit holders that want to transfer their permit must let potential new applicants (e.g., potential buyers or new permit holders) know that this may result in a reduced size for the permit area to meet the City’s bylaws.

For a permit transfer to be approved, it must meet the requirements set out in the application guide. For more information on permit transfers, please contact CafeTO@toronto.ca.

The café permit transfer fee has been waived for 2022.

It is expected in the future that the collection of fees associated with café operations will be resumed. The size of your permitted sidewalk café in 2022 will be used to assess any future fees. Adjusting the size of your café after your permit is issued will require a new application requirement. Please consider submitting an application for the space you intend to pay for in the future.

Processing time depends on the number of applications received and is typically between six to eight weeks. If there is incorrect or insufficient information in your submitted documents, this may extend the processing timeline.

An application will be refused if:

  • the application contains false, misleading or fraudulent information
  • the bylaw requirements are not met or
  • approvals are not received from the required City divisions or agencies such as Toronto Building, Toronto Fire Services, Toronto Transit Commission, Heritage Preservation Services, and utility providers

Prior to approval, the applicant will need to sign a permit agreement and indemnify the City. Application and permit fees have been waived for 2022. Your submitted Certificate of Insurance must be valid at the time of permit approval.

Successful applicants will receive a copy of the signed agreement, copy of the approved site plan and a permanent sidewalk café permit.

Conditions that are attached to permits issued before September 1, 2019 will continue to apply. Permit holders must also comply with the following requirements.

  • All permit holders need to display their permit clearly in the front window or door.
  • Sidewalk café permit area cannot be used for storage of any café elements, such as tables and chairs, when it is not in operation.
  • Sidewalk cafés on the frontage or flankage can be used over winter, but owners must clear the sidewalk of snow and sand and salt the sidewalk. Failure to do this can result in the permit being temporarily suspended.
  • All other café configurations (e.g. curbside café) not located directly adjacent to a building wall must be removed from the sidewalk from the period November 15 – April 14.

Pedestrian clearance

  • Pedestrian clearway requirements includes a minimum 1.8 metres for local roads, 2.1 metres for arterial and collector roads, and 2.5 metres on specified Downtown Toronto streets. The boundaries of the specified Downtown Toronto area are Bathurst Street to the west, the Dupont rail corridor to the north, Rosedale Valley to the north-east and Don River to the east.
  • Applicants can search the Road Classification System to identify the road type and minimum pedestrian clearance requirements that apply.

Your permit will expire annually on the anniversary of the date that the permit was first issued. A renewal notice, identifying any documents required to renew the permit, will be mailed to the address on file.

The renewal fee will be calculated based on a variety of factors, including where your patio will be located. The renewal fee has been waived for 2022.

Existing licensees must renew their licences online. You must continue to provide proof of $2,000,000 in Commercial General Liability (CGL) insurance. The completed Certificate of Insurance must be signed and stamped by the insurer.

Please have all required documents ready to upload before starting the renewal, as it requires 10-15 minutes to complete and cannot be saved. Download a step by step guide on how to renew a licence or permit.

Renew Permit

If you have already submitted a renewal, you may upload additional documents using your upload token.

Upload Documents for Existing Request

If you fail to renew your permit according to the bylaw, your permit will be cancelled and you will have to reapply. Find your outstanding business licence or permit renewal invoice.

Renewal forms

Small Frontage Cafés

Small frontage cafés are allowed without a permit. There are no associated fees with these small cafes, however they must confirm to the following conditions:

  • Only permitted where the minimum pedestrian clearway can be provided
  • Maximum dimension of 0.8m from the building wall x 5.5m wide
  • No fencing is permitted
  • Must be removed from the sidewalk at the end of each business day
  • A-frame signs on the sidewalk are not allowed if the width of the establishment is less than six metres