Walking

Guidelines for Parklets

What is a Parklet?

Parklets provide an economical solution to the desire for wider sidewalks. A parklet is a temporary lateral projection to the adjoining boulevard that can be used as additional space for street furniture, landscaping, outdoor cafés and other pedestrian-related amenities. Parklets secure this space by replacing on-street parking stalls for a platform that extends into the abutting roadway from the existing grade of the adjoining municipal boulevard. Once the platform is installed, benches, café furniture, landscaping and bike parking can be placed on top, providing additional outdoor amenity area. To accommodate snow clearing, the parklet is removed during winter months. Parklets are not intended to act as temporary sidewalks to allow the extension of existing outdoor patios into the existing pedestrian clearway[1]. These disrupt pedestrians, forcing them to detour around various obstructions. This is a challenge for persons with mobility issues, particularly the elderly, people with assistive devices or who are pushing child strollers and baby carriages.

The guiding principle is that pedestrians have first priority for continuous use of the sidewalk and that the private use of the sidewalk must not displace or disrupt pedestrian flow. With this in mind, parklets are not to be used as a pedestrian detour around privately-installed patios or street furniture.

Application Process

Under Article V (Encroachments in Streets) of Chapter 743, private sector parklets are prohibited encroachments that can only be approved by an appeal to Community Council. If approved, the applicant must enter into an encroachment agreement with the City. If the parklet is associated with an abutting commercial use, then this agreement must be registered on-title to the property.

If the parklet is to be used as an outdoor café or eating area, and is situated in the former Cities of York or Toronto, the application is first referred to Municipal Licensing and Standards for processing, since only former York and Toronto have specific regulations dealing with the licensing of outdoor eating areas.

If approved, applicants are subject to the applicable permits, fees and insurance requirements that Toronto Municipal Code Chapters 743 and 441 specify. Applicants are also required to submit to any financial requirements that the Toronto Parking Authority applies to the loss of revenue resulting from the displacement of on-street metered parking stalls.

Applicants are required to satisfy the following criteria:

  1. Provide detailed plans of the area within 6.0m of the proposed parklet, drawn in metric scale by an architect or engineer, showing existing and proposed conditions as well as the location of all street furniture, landscaping, encroachments, and utilities;

  2. Parklets shall not exceed the width of the abutting on-street parking stalls, and must be located 0.30m to 0.50m from the travelled surface of the adjoining curb lane where the curb lane is less than 3.65m wide;

  3. Parklets not placed within parking lay-bys may require an additional traffic barrier (i.e. paving stones, large planters, etc…) to ensure the safety of the parklet users – dependent on the design submitted.

  4. The design of the parklets should direct patrons to access/egress at the ends of the parklet on its street-facing side and ensure that the transition between the existing sidewalk and parklet is fully accessible.

  5. Parklets are not to be used as a temporary detour of an existing sidewalk, or to narrow the width of an existing sidewalk;

  6. Parklets associated with outdoor cafés and eating areas are limited to the period between 1 May and 31 September;

  7. Parklets must not interfere with drainage, restrict access to catch basins/maintenance holes/utilities, or be located within 2.0m of a fire hydrant;

  8. Parklets cannot be physically attached to the surface of the road or boulevard;

  9. Provide slip-resistant surfaces, reflective tape, soft hit posts and wheel stops as well as appropriate edge treatments such as planters, railings or cabling;

  10. To prevent sight line obstructions, where a parklet is proposed between existing rows of on-street parking stalls or within 70m of intersecting public roads or driveways, no solid screen fencing or soft landscaping located along the perimeter of the parklet shall exceed a height of 1.0m, measured from the travelled surface of the adjoining road;

  11. If applicable, comply with liquor licensing standards; and

  12. Provide a letter of support from the local Business Improvement Area and adjoining property owners.  

Applications will be reviewed based on design and enhancements to the streetscape, appropriate location, and demonstrated community support. As specified in Article V of Chapter 743, applicants must keep all planting and soft landscaping in a state of healthy and vigorous growth. The parklet must be kept free of debris and graffiti, with the area beneath the parklet flushed of debris at least once a week. Moveable items such as tables and chairs should be either taken inside the adjoining premises or kept locked at night and after business hours.

Click here for a PDF version of the guideline.


[1] A pedestrian clearway is the uninterrupted path available for pedestrians and is normally at least 2.13m wide when located adjacent to collector and arterial roads.


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