Dear Urban Diplomat: My neighbourhood has been overrun with sidewalk patios

Dear Urban Diplomat: My neighbourhood has been overrun with sidewalk patios

Dear Urban Diplomat,
During the pandemic, a popular restaurant on our
block applied for CaféTO, expanding its service onto the sidewalk. It was fine at first. Most people in the neighbourhood understood that any disruptions to the peacefulness of the street were for a good cause—helping the restaurant stay afloat in a precarious time. But, recently, the patio seems to have doubled in size, and I can’t walk past without tripping over a table. What to do? 
—Road Rage, Roncesvalles

When the city decided to permanently extend CaféTO, in late 2021, many flâneurs and motorists alike felt kicked to the curb. A robust restaurant industry benefits all Torontonians, but there are rules. First, go see if this place even has a permit: all CaféTO businesses must display credentials out front. Next, make sure it’s leaving enough room for pedestrians—sidewalk clearance must be at least 1.8 metres on local roads. If you suspect a bylaw breach, reach out to your city councillor.


Dear Urban Diplomat,
When Ontario legalized online sports betting, my roommate immediately linked up his bank account. It started out slow, with a few $10 NBA bets, but it’s gotten out of control. He’s staying up all night, betting God knows how much on everything from darts to cricket. When I mentioned that he should take a break from the app, he had a meltdown and said he only needed a few more wins to make rent this month. Any advice?
—Wager Danger, Cabbagetown

Your roommate needs help ASAP. Phone apps are addictive, engineered by tech geniuses to target the little lizards living in our brains. Combine that with the rush of sports betting and you’ve got a potent product. Under less dire circumstances, I would suggest giving your roomie the number for ConnexOntario (1-866-531-2600), the province’s mental health and addiction hotline, but it sounds like it may be too late. This problem is likely to persist or compound. It’s time to alert his parents or any loved ones in the vicinity. Hopefully, they can convince him to fold on this dangerous game.


Dear Urban Diplomat,
I recently went for drinks with younger work friends, and the university formerly known as Ryerson—my alma mater—came up. I mentioned that, though the change was well-intentioned, the school’s new name, Toronto Metropolitan University, sort of sucks and hurts the school’s cachet. The backlash was swift. Before long, they labelled me a racist even though I was talking about the name itself, not whether it was right to change it. Now I feel like a pariah at the office. How can I redeem myself?
—Getting Schooled, Weston 

Let’s start here: avoid mixing alcohol­ and politics at a work event. Unfortunately, it sounds like the damage is done. If your co-workers are open to it, offer an apology and clarify your position. But approach it delicately: a clunky mea culpa can make the situation worse. It might be best to lie low and confine office conversations to the weather.


Dear Urban Diplomat,
My son joined a rep soccer team this summer. He was super excited at first. The players are great kids, but the parents take it extremely seriously. And, unfortunately, my son is the worst player on the team. When he’s not on the bench, he’s out there trying his best, but the other parents yell at him if he makes a mistake. He wants to quit, and I don’t blame him. Should I alert the coach about the other parents’ conduct?
—The Ugly Game, Willowdale

Talking to the coach will likely lead to an insincere team email about “kindness and respect,” which could backfire if the other parents identify you as the source of the complaint. I suggest talking to your son. Tell him that parents have a tendency to unload their pent-up frustration on players and referees. Mention that, if he wants to quit, you’ll support him, but that life is about overcoming hurdles, and sticking it out would be a boss move. Then let him decide. That’s a guaranteed win for Team You.


Send your questions to the Urban Diplomat at urbandiplomat@torontolife.com.