City proposal to dramatically increase patio fees has local businesses worried about future


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Ferraro 502 is one of many businesses on Eglinton that have a patio

Business owners on Eglinton, which have been suffering due to the continued construction for the Crosstown LRT, are now facing another obstacle. The City of Toronto is proposing a dramatic fee increase for patio and market displays, which would directly impact patio permit–holding businesses. A public consultation meeting was scheduled for Jan. 30. 

According to a report sent out to the Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas (TABIA) from the city, the proposed fee will increase from $39.34 to $289.33 per square metre for cafés with alcohol sales in Midtown — an increase of more than 600 per cent.

Domenic Pupo, a longtime manager at the Italian restaurant Ferraro 502, said having a patio doesn’t necessarily mean more business, especially in his fenced in, construction-ridden part of the city.

“For the last three years, people didn’t want to sit on the patio because of the dust and the noise,” he said. “If there’s an increase in the fee, we might not be able to afford it.”

Ferraro 502’s patio is 11.7 square metres, with seating for 12. Under the new rate, the owner would have to pay an additional $2,924.89 a year.

One reason why this fee increase is so dramatic is due to the fact that it hasn’t been raised since 1994.

“But that’s the city’s fault,” said Nancy Pickard, of the Eglinton Way Business Improvement Area and manager of the Abbot Pub & Fare. “To raise it [by that much], that is ridiculous.”

The report states the market value for cafés in Midtown amount to $462.65 per square metre, a reference point for the proposed fee.

However, for the Eglinton Way BIA area, where Pupo has said the restaurant has seen a 20 per cent decrease in sales, the market value on paper doesn’t align with reality. 

“[The Eglinton Way area construction] is something that the city hasn’t looked at,” said Carleton Grant, director of Policy and Strategic Support at City of Toronto Municipal Licensing and Standards. “A lot of what we’re trying to assess from the [public consultation] is the impact for these businesses.” Grant said he has received feedback that the proposed fee hike for patios would put small businesses at a disadvantage.

“We need to find a balance where we can allow people to enhance their small business. We want to provide businesses with opportunities to grow and be stable.”

Grant said he hopes the proposals will be approved by spring and implemented over 2018.

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