War on fun: New zoning bylaw prohibits restaurants and bars located south of Bloor from having back patios
Think the one-year ban on bars and restaurants on Ossington was strict? This week, a new zoning bylaw quietly went into effect; it forbids any restaurant or bar located south of Bloor from Victoria Park and west to the Humber from opening a backyard patio.
Here’s the official city hall ruling from the staff report on August 5:
Outdoor patios will no longer be permitted in the rear yard, and may be located in a side yard subject to a maximum of 50% of the depth of the building from the front lot line in PA3 and PA4 on/south of Bloor St W and the Danforth in the Former City of Toronto.
With respect to outdoor patios, the recommendations of the Queen Street West Study are being carried forward to all properties located on or south of Bloor Street and Danforth Avenue in CR (commercial/residential) zones within Policy Areas 3 and 4 in the former City of Toronto. Outdoor patios will no longer be permitted in the rear yard, and may only be located in a side yard subject to a maximum length equal to 50% of the depth of the building measured from the front lot line.
The predominant reason behind the bylaw is noise. Many of the buildings in the affected area were built rather close to each other during the Second World War, which means that rear patios would bring more problems than front patios because a restaurant’s rear yard could face someone’s house. Corner establishments can have their patios on the side.
Joe D’Abramo, acting director of the city’s zoning bylaw and environmental planning division, acknowledges that not all restaurants and bars are rowdy and that residents are generally appreciative of commercial activity. The problem is that the provincial government doesn’t separate bars and restaurants when it comes to zoning and licensing. “If the province had a different regulatory regime, then we could distinguish between establishments that are acceptable and not,” he says.
Those establishments that already have patios out back can keep them, and restaurateurs taking over properties that have existing patios are, for the most part, safe as well. “Generally speaking, the rule is that the planning act will protect properties that exist in their current manner. Council can’t make a bylaw that’s retroactive.” As for properties that have the potential for a rear patio, those cases will be dealt with individually.
“I saw a few letters of concerns about the limiting nature of any bylaw. I think they just want more freedom, like any business, and do anything that services their uses, which is expected,” says D’Abramo. “The regulation that’s put in the bylaw by planners is trying to create a balance. We’re not looking to pick on restaurant owners; we’re creating a balance that lets business and residential communities live together.”
When asked if it’s possible to have rear patios close at an earlier hour as an option, D’Abramo says the difficulty is in enforcing that all those patios are cleared out by a certain time.
“Zoning has its limitations and is a tool best used when constructing the ideal use and building that goes along with it. It’s less useful when regulating day-to-day activities, like making people clear out every night,” he says. “It has its limitations, so you have to look at other regulations. Even then, are you going to have an enforcement officer at every restaurant to watch the clock?”
33 thoughts on “War on fun: New zoning bylaw prohibits restaurants and bars located south of Bloor from having back patios”
I am at a loss for words. Let’s just ban farmer’s markets, picnics and the front patios too. Let’s make sure there are guard rails 72″ high and that anyone 10m of the lake must wear life jackets. Let’s ensure that people walking in the streets talk softly – any shouting or singing or dancing must result in stiff penalties. Why are restaurants paying the penalty for the desire to enjoy fresh air and the joy of dining al fresco? Is this not a city, supposedly full of vitality and diversity? So incredibly heavy handed, and short sighted. If back patios are now forbidden, why have front sidewalks been so poorly planned? Let’s look outside of our fishtank please – great cities have managed to deal with this very elegantly. Is Toronto ‘special’, for some reason???
J ,you said it so well.. the only thing I can add is that this proves even more that Toronto needs a leader, a thinker, a visionary who think BIG and not like a small town Port Perry Mayor/Council. Do we really want to play in the big league and sell this city as a London, New York ? we cant do it with all these nitpicking and stupidity. This is the downtown Core..
Just an incredible joke. Think of some of the best pubs around, Allen’s (just south of Danforth), Betty’s on King, Black Bull on Queen, all have full side or back patios and are some of the most profitable and well loved pubs in the city. We’ve just zoned out their replacements should their owners ever need to move properties due to rising costs or building structural problems (see Yonge st. just north of Dundas)
NIMBY indeed. was this even put out for public comment? To look for conflict of interest, do any of the zoning committee members have houses near one of these types of establishments……..questions questions
This bylaw makes no sense whatsoever. It would make slightly more sense if it prohibited patios north of Bloor. Instead council has decided that it makes more sense for backyard patios to be in Lawrence Park and Leaside than in Little Italy or The Danforth.
We already have noise bylaws which can be applied to patios and licenses that can be revoked if patio owners don’t play nice with their neighbours. I’d like to know who the imbeciles are that voted to ban new patios downtown?
This city is becoming easily pushed and bullied weekly now, I live in Queen west west and back patios are the life line. 1 place in order buildings are small enough and this gave them the room they needed. So not only do these places pay with less customers they have to pay for unused property????? Ridiculous, Lets all forget the complaining and just do something for the people who have given us all those days of enjoyment.
Money talks, noise complaints are never taken seriously.
Neighborhoods are told to suck it up and be thankful for the economic activity (aka. drunks vomiting everywhere, pissing everywhere).
Give me a break, somehow I don’t think people will stop drinking beer because they can’t do it in a back patio.
Someone finally got on the side of the residents, for once.
The industry people will complain bitterly, but they’re only out for their own self interest, they have no interest in a balanced policy that protects communities.
Everyone is in business to make money, I am sure we all know that. I lived in the countryside and currently live downtown core and from first hand Kids will puke anywhere anytime. Piss anywhere anytime. Why doesn’t the city stop Condo projects??? Corner of Queen around Gladstone there are 5 condo projects back patio or not thats a good 5,000 extra ppl who will puke and piss.
It’s not the fact of not drinking anymore I am looking at the point where taxes on property are not paid on whats used or not.
S**t imagine all the smokers now who will line the streets at night…in their pukey, pissy stages.
The Only reason city hall comes up with these stupid bylaws is because they know they will get away with it.They know they can shove stuff down our throats and we wont do anything about it.All the people of Toronto should start standing up for their rights and stop city hall from making stupid decisions for us. They think Torontonians will just sit back and take what Miller wants our city to become. AT some point we have to get together and stand up against City Hall or they will keep coming up with these stupid bylaws. God forbid small businesses make any money or the people have any fun.
Well perhaps residents will enjoy the derelict buildings that will occur eventually, and the people that frequent and squat there.
Time to remove these dowdy blue hairs that run our city. Career politicians are my most hated.
As for Adam, the patriarch of this terrible idea, well I can’t print what I think of him.
Why, oh why, do we pay taxes, hmm? I mean just to have bloody patio restrictions and buggery ugly zoning wardens and bollocky smoking bloody areas… I mean, I know they’re all there to stop stupid people running amok in our neighbourhoods and killing themselves, but we’re not all stupid! We don’t all need nursemaiding! I mean why not have a stupidity tax? Just tax the stupid people!
Next step: DANCING WILL BE ILLEGAL remember the movie Footloose.
If Adam want this in his riding go for it but keep you nose out of other peoples ridings.
I’m relieved to hear that at least already-existing patios will not be shut down. But sometimes I wonder if people who live in houses with outdoor space realize that not everyone is so lucky. I mean, is it not enough that you have your own backyard to chill and have a drink in, that you have to begrudge the rest of us our outdoor space too?
Why even live downtown in the first place if you don’t like the sound of people enjoying themselves? Isn’t property generally more expensive downtown? And do you know why that is? Because it’s where the good bars and restaurants are, it’s where the subway runs precisely because more people live there, it’s where young people live and where the best parties are. You live downtown for the exact same reasons that you’re complaining. Don’t the patio-haters understand that once you eat your cake, you don’t have your cake anymore?
rick says it best …….. torontonians are a bunch of pussies who take it bending over. no one does anything about anything !!
There really aren’t any words so express how absolutely ridiculous this b-law is. what has happened to democracy? Let’s ask the people you know the taxpayers what they’d like. Every major City has front, side and even back patios.
They offer a nice garden setting in the middle of a bustling City. I don’t think I know anybody who would disagree with me. Why just south of Bloor? Are the business owners south of Bloor second class citizens?
Joe Pantalone really dropped the ball on this one. He can say goodbye to any votes south of Bloor.
God forbid anyone impinge on drunks having to get drunk inside.
I love these people who think that requiring drunks to shut up is nothing less than the death of our democracy.
Yes, it is in fact a privilege to be unable to fall asleep before 3AM, wednesday through saturday, because of bars in residential areas that have no interest in keeping their patrons quiet.
Is prohibition next? We must stop comrade councillor (Adam Vaughan) from destroying the freedoms and prosperity that we enjoy. Mike Yen is running for council in ward 20. He will fight to reverse this damage and to protect our rights.
What a ” world class” idea…need I say more?
For those that complain about the noise created from downtown patios, maybe downtown living is not right for you. Perhaps the quiet of the suburbs would be more appropriate? Lets keep our downtown area vibrant and developing! If quiet living is what you desire you have plenty of options north of Bloor!
I’m on the side of residents that have to put up with the noise and ignorant restaurant management. I do not live anywhere near a restaurant or bar but there are many residents who have lived in a particular house for many years and then one day they have a backyard patio backing onto their backyard. I believe these people shouldn’t have to move from their home due to noise issues, they have a right to live their. Many restaurants do not have the space for patios and they survive!
But brooklin99…it seems counter intuitive to move downtown in a big city and expect quiet no? The majority of these patios are fairly small and not extremely roudy, and those that ARE loud and roudy don’t usually pop up overnight. Just my opinion though.
Love this edition… Jan Wong recommending the ban of street festivals and now city hall banning back patios. Are we getting back to the days when Toronto was the big little city that fun forgot?
What is next? Home owners wont be allowed to have backyard parties unless they get permission from City Hall.I would’nt be surprised if you would have to buy a permit from City Hall to have a backyard party.That is the way it is heading.
For some reason this city council wants all of Toronto to look the same. I think each neighborhood has its own uniqueness and should be kept so. Otherwise their stupid decisions and ridiculous bylaws will make this ‘ONE BORING CITY”. Why should millions of our tax dollars be spent on luring tourist to this city if there is nothing exciting to do here?
Blame Adam Vaughan! He is the idiot responsible for this mess against happy hours. Mike Yen is against it and running for city council to have this ban cancelled.
At first I thought this was another example of the gov pestering people for no good reason,… then I read further.
Noise in this city is a real problem.
Even in my ‘hood the power tools, partying hooligans, roaring cars(at 4am) and SCREAMING KIDS are a huge problem. Back yards are an enormous sound bowl and amplifier.
I can’t imagine living next to a new drinkery that has a back patio.
Curious . . . do larger metropolises such as New York City or San Francisco accomodate to the same increasing growth of zoning bi-laws to restrict restaurants and bars? Seems to me, when reading into other larger cities, they accomodate business growth as opposed to restrict. Throw in the malaise of the St. Clair Street street car line, the demise of business due to renewal of the Roncesvalles street car line and the Ossington moratorium and it would appear the City of Toronto is intent on closing business, albeit indirectly.
This should be a give and take society and if you give an in people take a mike. Why should people have the peace and quiet of their home ruined so someone can fill their yard 3 feet away with screaming, yelling, laughing people and loud intrusive noise. Blame the establishments for letting the noise get out of control and leaving residents no alternative. Patio’s are great but they are not the C.N.E. FAIR GROUND.
A few years ago I was sitting on an airplane beside an airline captain – after exchanging pleasantries he informed me that he lived in Montreal but worked in Toronto. Since we got along so well, he asked if I had heard of this saying that they use in Quebec about Toronto: “You can do whatever you like provided you have no fun”!!! He absolutely nailed it!
This city just plain sucks!!! No where else in this great country or for that matter anywhere else do we have big brother exerting their control on the masses…Pity!
“No where else in this great country or for that matter anywhere else do we have big brother exerting their control on the masses”
You’ve obviously never been to Vancouver then. For a glimpse at the pot of gold at the end of this rainbow, see: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Pfs-dZExWU
Just to address the person writing about “drunks getting drunk on patios”
Not everyone who sits out on patios are drunks or even there to get drunk. I like to enjoy a meal on a patio in the Summer and maybe even a glass of wine.
why don’t sit in front of restaurants and bars like people do in other places..Isn’t it what makes Paris so vibrant and they don’t need to fence it out like we do it here…unfortunately back patios can be disturbing to adjacent residential property and we have to acknowledge that
If taxi drivers would stop honking their horns late night while picking up fares while local residents are trying to sleep; and if bars, clubs and restaurants with patios would enforce basic liquor license regulations when dealing with loud and obnoxious behaviour late night from some of their patrons, we would not have this problem!
A few Yahoos* from Woodebridge* are ruining Toronto’s night life so we are definitely not Paris or elsewhere where decorum and respect for the neighbourhood is a part of the outdoor cafe culture.
*The Yahoos and Woodebridge terms are used metaphorically (so no need to get any politically correct knickers in a twist ;-)
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