Policy, Research, Public Consultation and Events

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Sidewalk Cafes and Marketing Displays Review

The City is reviewing permit fees, regulations, as well as the design for sidewalk cafés and marketing displays. 

What's happening

The final report on the new regulations for sidewalk cafés, public parklets and marketing displays will  be presented to a joint meeting of the Licensing and Standards Committee and Public Works and Infrastructure Committee on December 4, 2017 at 9:30 am.  


About the review

ExpandProposed fees and fee zones

Updated June 6, 2017

1. Proposed Permit Fees for Sidewalk Cafes and Marketing Displays

Permit Fees

A permit fee is an annual fee that a business pays to the City for the right to use public space for commercial purposes. The authority to impose this fee comes from section 259(1)(c) of the City of Toronto Act, 2006 which states that the City can impose a fee or charge “for the use of [the City’s] property”.


Existing Permit Fees

Fee ZoneCafé Permit Fee (m2/year)Marketing Permit Fee(m2/year)
Toronto Area 1
Toronto Area 2
Toronto Area 3
East York
North York
Sidewalk cafes are not currently permitted in Scarborough


Proposed Permit Fees* 

Proposed Fee ZoneSidewalk Café ($/m2)Sidewalk Marketing Display ($/m2)
Central Zone



Outer Zone



 * Notes 

   i.         the Central Zone permit fee would apply along both sides of the proposed boundary

  ii.         No permit fees are proposed in the case of a Small Sidewalk Café and a Small Marketing Display

Proposed Implementation of new Permit Fees:

  1. The proposed fees will not be subject to inflationary increases over the next 15 years
  2. New applicants - Proposed fees would take effect immediately
  3. Existing Permit Holders
  4.  i.         Any reductions resulting from the proposed fees would take effect immediately (i.e. permit fees in North York would be reduced by up to 60%
    ii.         Where the proposed fees result in an increase, the increase would be phased in equally over a 15-year period


Proposed Parklet Café Permit Fees*:

Central Zone, $900 per month

Outer Zone, $565 per month

 * Note: the proposed parklet café permit fees are based on the average size of a parking stall, which is 14.3 m2


Proposed Year-round Sidewalk Café Permit Fees

Central Zone, $133/m2

Outer Zone, $66.50/m2


2. Proposed Application and Renewal Fees, and Tree Planting Fees:

 As per the City's User Fee Policy, the proposed application fee has been set at a rate that recovers the cost of providing the service to review and issue a permit. This includes costs to intake the application, process payment, circulate it to other divisions, conduct site inspections, undertake public notice, and coordinate with the applicant and other stakeholders as necessary. 

  • Sidewalk Café and Marketing Display Application Fee:  $1332.45


  • Small Frontage Café and Small Marketing Display Application Fee: $141.57


  • Proposed Renewal Fee (Small Frontage Café and Marketing Display): $63.71


  • Proposed Fee for Tree Planting: $1300.00*


At its meeting of April 18, 2017, the Licensing and Standards Committee directed staff to consult with stakeholders on the feasibility of requiring any new café permit applicant to pay a fee that would cover the installation of two trees. 

The tree planting fee is a one-time fee that would only be paid when:

1. a new permit is approved at a location where there is a soft, unpaved boulevard; and

2. Urban Forestry has determined that the proposed use (café or marketing display) would limit the ability to plant a tree there.


The fee for tree planting would not be required if:

3. There is no available space to plant a tree

4. There is already a tree at the proposed café or marketing location; and

5. The application is for a small Frontage Café or a Small Marketing Display

3. Proposed Fee Zones


Central Zone is equivalent to the downtown area defined in Map 6 of the Official Plan. It is delineated by the heavy line in the map below 

Outer Zone is the remaining geographic area of the City.

Map of proposed fee zones

ExpandSidewalk Cafes and Marketing Displays Review

The City of Toronto Municipal Licensing and Standards (ML&S) Division is undertaking a review of existing sidewalk cafe and sidewalk marketing display bylaws. The purpose of the review is to harmonize bylaws so that consistent standards are applied across the city.  As part of the review, permit fees are also being reviewed and the Transportation Public Realm Section is drafting design guidelines to support compliance of businesses with the updated bylaw.

The final staff report on both the harmonized bylaw and the outdoor cafe design guidelines is expected in late 2017.  

Stakeholder and public input

The City is committed to an open and inclusive process which incorporates stakeholder and public participation. This review includes in-depth research, analysis and consultations with sidewalk cafe permit holders, outdoor marketing display permit holders, members of the general public, residents/community groups, and relevant business associations.  A list of consultations which were held is available online here.

What do the terms "sidewalk cafe" and "sidewalk marketing display" mean?

Sidewalk cafe: In the former municipalities of the City of Toronto (except in Scarborough), restaurant/cafe owners can apply for a "outdoor cafe" permit, allowing them to operate a "cafe" or patio on the public right-of-way (boulevard/sidewalk).

Sidewalk marketing display: In the former municipalities of the City of Toronto (except in Scarborough), retail business owners can apply for a "outdoor marketing display" permit, allowing them to operate a stall outside of their business on the public right-of-way (boulevard/sidewalk) to offer their goods and merchandise for sale. 

Relevant legislation and decisions

As present, City of Toronto bylaws that govern Toronto sidewalk cafes and marketing include:

  • Chapter 743, Use of Streets and Sidewalks
  • Chapter 313, Streets and Sidewalk of the Former City of Toronto;
  • By-law 16-97 of the Former City of East York, Boulevard - Commercial Displays - To regulate and permit the leasing or licensing of the use of the untraveled portion of public highways for certain purposes;
  • By-Law No. 41-93, To delegate to certain area municipalities the authority to lease or license the use of sidewalks, boulevards and untraveled portions of Metropolitan Roads;
  • By-law Number 29607, a By-Law for leasing or licensing the use of untraveled portions of roads under the jurisdiction of the Corporation of the City of North York; and
  • By-Law 3343-79, Respecting Streets in the Borough of York.

A list of related legislative decisions is listed here:

Phases of the Review

The review will proceed in three overlapping phases:

  • Phase 1: Public and Stakeholder Consultation – October 2013  to Fall 2015
  • Phase 2: Research and Analysis – Ongoing
  • Phase 3:The Final Report – March 2014 to late 2017

Each phase is described in more detail below.

Phase 1: Stakeholder and Public Consultations

The purpose of this phase was to obtain stakeholders and public input on the proposal to harmonize sidewalk cafe and Marketing bylaws. Staff accepted input through consultations, meetings, online survey and comments/feedback form, email, voice messages and written submissions. View a list of consultations here.

Phase 2: Research and Analysis

Staff compiled and reviewed suggestions from Phase 1, while performing research and analysis of Toronto businesses and other jurisdictions. Through this phase, the framework for harmonization was developed

Phase 3: The Final Report

Following the consultations being held in June 2017, a final staff report on both the harmonized bylaw and the sidewalk café design manual is expected in late 2017. This report will be considered by a joint meeting of the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee and the Licensing and Standards Committee. A date for this meeting has not been set yet.


Reports and presentations