We might have a patio season after all

PATIO

There's still no firm date on when restaurants and bars will reopen again in the province, but the City of Toronto wants to be ready as soon as the green light is given.

Mayor John Tory announced the "Cafe TO" plan today, and — barring council approval — it will help restaurant and bar owners fast-track expansions or additions of patios.

"I know that Toronto residents miss having a meal or having a drink at their favourite spots, especially as summer approaches and especially of course, on our beloved patios," Tory said. "CafeTO is a quick-start program that will make it easier for restaurant and bar owners to open patios, to expand patios, and to access additional space for physical distancing, and for that matter revenue-generation during the summer months."

Tory said the City has been working in partnership with the province, about ways to cut the red tape to help the restaurant industry's recovery.

Several business associations have already reached out to the City to express interest in their areas, Tory said, which will play a role in potentially seeing this project move outside the downtown core.

"We've undertaken planning for the reallocation of... lanes of streets in appropriate areas for patios so as to maximize the space available and provide more help for this industry," Tory said. "There are a number of areas, not confined to the downtown I'm very pleased to say, and I think there are still perhaps more potential areas to come from the more suburban parts of the city."

Plus, restaurant and bar owners aren't going to have to pay for permits, if council approves it. Tory said that's because he doesn't want to give them something but take away from them in another sense.