Patio flies and manufacturers of portable heating devices rejoice: The City of Toronto just made it way easier for bar and restaurant owners to keep their outdoor dining spaces warm this fall... and potentially even this winter, precipitation depending.
The city announced Friday morning that it will officially allow portable heaters to be placed on all outdoor patios this season — including the hundreds recently built in curb lanes as part of its CafeTO program — to provide additional support for businesses amid the ongoing pandemic.
The idea is to keep outdoor dining spaces open longer than usual, giving diners a safe and comfortable way to eat out local restaurants until snow literally makes it impossible for them to do so.
In other words, patio season will be extended indefinitely, giving restaurants a chance to help offset some of the losses incurred by COVID-19, and the rest of us a chance to feel like we're chilling at a ski resort in the heart of the city.
"Portable heating devices, including fire fuelled appliances like propane heaters, will be allowed on all outdoor patio types in Toronto, including sidewalks and curb lane cafés," reads a news release from the city issued Friday morning.
"The guidelines for safe use developed by Toronto Fire Services will be available to patio and café operators today, and operators must follow them closely."
Previous to this announcement, restaurants had to go through a lengthy application process to win approval for outdoor patio heaters.
The city says that its new guidelines "streamline" that process to the point where businesses no longer have to submit documentation before installing heaters on their patios, though strict guidelines pertaining to their use will still be in place.
City bylaw officers and Toronto Fire Services staff will be checking up on businesses to ensure that their heaters meet all federal and provincial safety requirements, according to the city, and tent structures in patios will remain forbidden.
"The CaféTO program is due to end in late fall (pending snowfall in weather forecasts) and allowing restaurant operators to safely introduce portable heaters will help make outdoor dining more appealing to customers, encourage physical distancing to help stop virus spread, and give restaurant operators the chance to maximize outdoor patio season and generate revenue," writes the city.
"I heard this request from the restaurant industry and took action to help allow portable heaters to safely keep CaféTO installations and patios warm, even in late October and November, to help extend the season," said Mayor John Tory similarly.
"I want to thank City staff for working to find a way to make this possible to help restaurants as much as we can right now."
by Lauren O'Neil via blogTO