Hall monitor: seen and heard about the future of the city’s patios
Councillors dream of Jimmy and Glenn’s Café: “I can see us both behind the grill doing specialty sandwiches”
April 18, 2017
The rules that govern sidewalk patios were examined at the Licensing & Standards Committee at Toronto City Hall last Tuesday. The crux of the issue involved harmonizing decades-old bylaws, updating a user-fee policy, and making sure provincial accessibility requirements are met on sidewalks. So what happened? It was all explained through dogs and tail metaphors, and visionary dreams of a specialty sandwich shop in Scarborough run by two local councillors. Here are some of the highlights.
John Kiru, executive director, Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas (TABIA):
“Most of the patios, most of the vibrancy is in the downtown area, and as someone not too long ago reminded me, we’ve got to remember what the dog is and what the tail is, and so we really need to understand where those fees come from and the jurisdiction of that. That said, we were quite hopeful that restaurants would be paid by the city to activate those dead spaces that are out there that are collecting tumbleweeds and stuff like that, but nonetheless – that’s a bit of a joke that Tracey [Cook, executive director, Municipal Licensing & Standards] and I have bantered back and forth.”
Councillor Glenn De Baeremaeker and Tracey Cook, executive director, Municipal Licensing & Standards
De Baeremaeker: Just wearing my hat as the city’s tree advocate… I notice there’s one section that some people in, I’ll call it, the old city of Toronto had to pay $3,000 towards planting a tree if possible, and you’re proposing that fee go down to $650 with some exemptions. Do you think it would be reasonable for me to move a motion or to ask you to consider for your fall report that we come back with a non-refundable fee to plant two trees, either at the café location or at another nearby location?
Cook: Through you, Mr. Chair, this particular provision was discussed with our partners in urban forestry. If you would like us to report further on that we’re happy to do so, and it would be up to your learned decision-making at that point.
De Baeremaeker: But currently, the fee for some people is $3,000. There’s a non-refundable fee of $3,000.
Cook: Yeah, through you, Mr. Chair, from a review of our records, I don’t believe that fee has been collected.
Councillor Paula Fletcher:
“I very much want to see more information here – the number of patios by each of the community councils. As you say, you’d have them done up on a Google map. I think that should be here. I’m quite concerned it’s not here, because there’s a big dog, and then there’s a little tail, and I don’t want the tail to wag the dog. Even if at the end of the day we have to maintain some separate approaches for the community councils, then let’s do it. And if we have to find the accessibility piece that’s going to make sure anyone in Toronto can get by any flankage or patio… let’s do that.”
Councillor De Baeremaeker:
“My colleague Councillor Fletcher said, you know, there’s the big dog, and there’s the tail, and I would say Scarborough is certainly not the big dog. Scarborough’s not even the tail. I think we may be a flea, on the end of the tail, at the end of the big dog. because we don’t, to my knowledge, have any cafés in Scarborough. In my ward, in Scarborough Centre, I can’t think of any off the top of my head, and I think that harmonizing the bylaw might actually help Scarborough some day get a café. Yet another thing the downtown core has that Scarborough residents don’t have. I think once we get the subway, there’ll be cafés aplenty. Chockablock.”
Councillors Jim Karygiannis and De Baeremaeker:
Karygiannis: Clarification of the motion – does this mean… you still want to ding the person that is applying with $1,300?
De Baeremaeker: Actually, I want to save them $1,600, because the current fee, if you read the staff report, is $3,000 in the City of Toronto. We don’t have it in Scarborough. So In downtown Toronto, if you were to walk into, say, Jimmy’s Café, there is a provision that you would —”
Karygiannis: Jimmy and Glenn’s Café?
De Baeremaeker: Jimmy and Glenn’s Café, that you’d have to pay a $3,000 – and I’m sure it would be a very popular café, too. I can see us both behind the grill, doing specialty sandwiches for a lot of people coming in, and when we opened up our café the city could, in theory, ask us for a $3,000 fee to plant a tree in that café space. My motion lowers the fee to $1,300 and actually requires it to be planted either on the site or a nearby location.
Karygiannis: Thank you.