Proposed Toronto patio tax hike could lead to higher menu prices

Proposed changes to Toronto's patio bylaws could mean higher bills at restaurants and bars. 

Tony Elenis, President of the Ontario Restaurant, Hotel, and Motel Association, says owners might have to raise prices on food and alcohol, if city council goes ahead with a proposal that could see levies on patios go up as much as 400 percent. 

Elenis warns that an increase so high could force many of Toronto's favourite after-work hang-outs to shut down completely. 

"For the restaurant, the patio is really how they are able to be sustained, through the extra seating (patios) have," Elenis says.

"You might as well close them down if you take away that extra revenue." 

Richard Pope, who owns the Northwood Cafe and Bar in Christie Pits, tells NEWSTALK 1010 that his $1,400 yearly patio fee could climb as high as $14,000. 

The ORHMA says restaurant owners who decide they want to continue operating will have to find the money to cover the increased fees, and that could come through spending cuts, job cuts, and higher prices on food and drinks. 

The proposed changes would start to be phased in in 2018. 

A final report on patio taxes is due at city council in April.