The City of Toronto Municipal Licensing and Standards (ML&S) Division is undertaking a review of existing sidewalk cafe and sidewalk marketing display bylaws. The purpose of the review is to harmonize bylaws so that consistent standards are applied across the city.  As part of the review, permit fees are also being reviewed and the Transportation Public Realm Section is drafting design guidelines to support compliance of businesses with the updated bylaw.

The final report on the new regulations for sidewalk cafés, public parklets and marketing displays was presented to a joint meeting of the Licensing and Standards Committee and Public Works and Infrastructure Committee on December 4, 2017 at 9:30 a.m.

Image of a sidewalk cafe

Sidewalk café

In the former municipalities of the City of Toronto (except in Scarborough), restaurant/cafe owners can apply for a “outdoor cafe” permit, allowing them to operate a “cafe” or patio on the public right-of-way (boulevard/sidewalk).







Image of fruit stand

Sidewalk marketing display

In the former municipalities of the City of Toronto (except in Scarborough), retail business owners can apply for a “outdoor marketing display” permit, allowing them to operate a stall outside of their business on the public right-of-way (boulevard/sidewalk) to offer their goods and merchandise for sale.

Phase 1: Stakeholder & Public Consultations

The purpose of this phase was to obtain stakeholders and public input on the proposal to harmonize sidewalk cafe and Marketing bylaws. Staff accepted input through consultations, meetings, online survey and comments/feedback form, email, voice messages and written submissions.

Phase 2: Research and Analysis

Staff compiled and reviewed suggestions from Phase 1, while performing research and analysis of Toronto businesses and other jurisdictions. Through this phase, the framework for harmonization was developed.

Phase 3: The Final Report

Following the consultations being held in June 2017, a final staff report on both the harmonized bylaw and the sidewalk café design manual is expected in late 2017. This report will be considered by a joint meeting of the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee and the Licensing and Standards Committee. A date for this meeting has not been set yet.

A permit fee is an annual fee that a business pays to the City for the right to use public space for commercial purposes. The authority to impose this fee comes from section 259(1)(c) of the City of Toronto Act, 2006 which states that the City can impose a fee or charge “for the use of [the City’s] property”.

Existing Permit Fees

Fee Zone Café Permit Fee (m2/year) Marketing Permit Fee(m2/year)
Toronto Area 1 $90.72 $103.17
Toronto Area 2 $45.35 $51.67
Toronto Area 3 $22.69 $25.85
York $5.50 $5.50
East York $24.69 $24.69
Etobicoke $11.00 $11.00
North York $114.12 $114.12
Scarborough Sidewalk cafes are not currently permitted in Scarborough


Proposed Permit Fees*

Proposed Fee Zone Sidewalk Café ($/m2) Sidewalk Marketing Display ($/m2)
Central Zone $88.31 $62.65
Outer Zone $44.14 $38.12

 * Notes i.         the Central Zone permit fee would apply along both sides of the proposed boundaryii.        No permit fees are proposed in the case of a Small Sidewalk Café and a Small Marketing Display

Proposed Implementation of New Permit Fees:

  1. The proposed fees will not be subject to inflationary increases over the next 15 years.
  2. New applicants – Proposed fees would take effect immediately.
  3. Existing Permit Holders:
    1. Any reductions resulting from the proposed fees would take effect immediately (i.e. permit fees in North York would be reduced by up to 60%.
    2. Where the proposed fees result in an increase, the increase would be phased in equally over a 15-year period.

Proposed Parklet Café Permit Fees*

Central Zone, $900 per month

Outer Zone, $565 per month

* Note: the proposed parklet café permit fees are based on the average size of a parking stall, which is 14.3 m2

Proposed Year-round Sidewalk Café Permit Fees

Central Zone, $133/m2

Outer Zone, $66.50/m2

As per the City’s User Fee Policy, the proposed application fee has been set at a rate that recovers the cost of providing the service to review and issue a permit. This includes costs to intake the application, process payment, circulate it to other divisions, conduct site inspections, undertake public notice, and coordinate with the applicant and other stakeholders as necessary.

  • Sidewalk Café and Marketing Display Application Fee: $1332.45
  • Small Frontage Café and Small Marketing Display Application Fee: $141.57
  • Proposed Renewal Fee (Small Frontage Café and Marketing Display): $63.71
  • Proposed Fee for Tree Planting: $1300.00*

At its meeting of April 18, 2017, the Licensing and Standards Committee directed staff to consult with stakeholders on the feasibility of requiring any new café permit applicant to pay a fee that would cover the installation of two trees.

The tree planting fee is a one-time fee that would only be paid when:

  1. A new permit is approved at a location where there is a soft, unpaved boulevard.
  2. Urban Forestry has determined that the proposed use (café or marketing display) would limit the ability to plant a tree there.

The fee for tree planting would not be required if:

  1. There is no available space to plant a tree.
  2. There is already a tree at the proposed café or marketing location.
  3. The application is for a small frontage café or a small marketing display.

Central Zone is equivalent to the downtown area defined in Map 6 of the Official Plan. It is delineated by the heavy line in the map below.

Outer Zone is the remaining geographic area of the City.

graphic of a map showing the boundaries of the fee zones: Rail Corridor, Rosedale Vallet, Don River, Lake Ontario and Bathurst Street
Map of Proposed Fee Zones

Over 30 consultations (2014-2017) were held to gather feedback which included in-depth research, analysis and consultations with Business Improvement Areas (BIAs), Ontario Restaurant Hotel and Motel Association, Residents’ Associations sidewalk café permit holders, outdoor marketing display permit holders and members of the general public.


By-laws that govern Toronto sidewalk cafés and marketing include:

  • Chapter 743, Use of Streets and Sidewalks.
  • Chapter 313, Streets and Sidewalk of the Former City of Toronto.
  • By-law 16-97 of the Former City of East York, Boulevard – Commercial Displays – To regulate and permit the leasing or licensing of the use of the untraveled portion of public highways for certain purposes.
  • By-law No. 41-93, To delegate to certain area municipalities the authority to lease or license the use of sidewalks, boulevards and untraveled portions of Metropolitan Roads.
  • By-law Number 29607, a By-Law for leasing or licensing the use of untraveled portions of roads under the jurisdiction of the Corporation of the City of North York.
  • By-law 3343-79, Respecting Streets in the Borough of York.

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