Home Business Toronto looks to soften the blow of new CafeTO fees, rules

Toronto looks to soften the blow of new CafeTO fees, rules

by News Desk
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The city is putting the brakes on proposed changes to CaféTO after restaurant owners warned that proposals to enact new fees and regulations could undermine a popular outdoor dining program.

At a meeting of the city council’s executive committee on Tuesday, Mayor John Torrey admitted there was “sticker shock” about the costly requirements city officials have to take. It is recommended to introduce this year Municipalities are moving to make pandemic-era programs permanent. He filed a motion asking staff to consider how to “address transition concerns” related to the new rules.

To lessen the blow to restaurants whose businesses have yet to fully recover from COVID-19, the mayor said staff could offer a few options they could “perhaps implement this in a more gentle way. He said he hopes that he will give it to him.

In a report released last week, staff suggested requiring restaurants to build accessible platforms on all curb patios and pay thousands of dollars in annual membership fees.

Torrey agreed that it was important to make courtyards accessible and that it was only fair for restaurants to charge to use public spaces on curbs and sidewalks. asked staff to consider a “grace period” for platform installations, potential changes to tariffs, and other adjustments that might make it easier for businesses to participate.

Staff will report on the mayor’s motion at the February City Council meeting, when a report on the program will be discussed.

Since 2020, CaféTO has allowed restaurants to set up outdoor patios on curbs and sidewalks. It was intended to help businesses through the lockdown while providing space for patrons to eat safely outdoors.

Last year, the program enabled more than 1,300 patios and generated $203 million in economic benefits for the City of Toronto.

The program was free for the first three years, but last week, staff reported a one-time application fee of $865, plus annual fees that average about $1,500 for sidewalk spaces and $3,000 for curb spaces. recommended to do so.

Additionally, construction of the accessibility platform required for the curb lane patio costs an average of $14,000. This year, businesses are eligible for half the costs covered by federal grants of up to $7,500.

Restaurant industry representatives told a committee meeting on Tuesday that the additional costs and administrative burden of the new rules would deter many businesses from enrolling in the program.

Tracy McGregor, Ontario’s vice president of restaurants Canada, has paid taxes, rent, insurance and other expenses whenever COVID-19 has forced cafes and bars to close in the past three years. I said I had to keep going. Government assistance helped, but many owners had to take out loans they had not yet repaid.

“Restaurants need this program to get them on the road to recovery. Now is not the time to bring rates back and make the proposed changes to the program,” Macgregor said.

“The simplicity and accessibility of the program is what has made it such a success for our restaurant and our city.”

Using Alyshah Hasham’s file.

Ben Spurr is a Toronto-based reporter covering city and local government politics for The Star. Email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter: @BenSpurr

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