Tory asks city staff to explore winter/year-round outdoor dining to help restaurants

A restaurant patio in Toronto during COVID-19

With extended curb lane patios set to end by mid-November, Toronto Mayor John Tory is asking city staff to figure out a way to maintain outdoor dining even during the winter. 

“I want an answer as to how much we can do, not how much we can’t do with respect to winter, outdoor dining,” he said. 

“I’ve seen bubbles used in New York, we’ve seen some patios that have put sort of temporary enclosures around themselves and you have to be careful not to turn it into indoor space,” he said. 

The extended lanes introduced during CaféTO will end by November 15th or earlier in case there’s a large enough snowfall for them to be removed. 

While city officials have touted the program to help restaurants during the pandemic, the food service sector has faced significant challenges. 

According to the latest Stats Canada’s Labour Force Survey, employment in the sector was down 260,000 jobs compared to February and Restaurants Canada says service sales could drop by nearly half in 2020. 

Recently, various businesses have also spoken out regarding the challenges around securing insurance, some telling NEWSTALK1010 they have seen their premiums either significantly increase or refused outright. 

Tory is also asking council to take action on insurance, by working with the provincial government in any actions to prevent major increases to policies and premiums. 

The mayor is also asking council to support extending the provincial allowance of liquor sales for takeout/delivery and request the government continue the pause on commercial evictions.