TABIA Deputes at Executive Committee on the Future of CafeTO

January 27, City of Toronto Executive Committee:

Thank you, your worship and good afternoon to all.

My name is John Kiru and I am the Executive Director of TABIA, the umbrella organization for Toronto’s 84 BIAs who collectively represent well over 70,000 businesses and property owners.

Its always a pleasure to appear before this committee and never more so then today.

We are delighted with this report and the fact that CafeTO will be back this coming year and hopefully for many more to come, but that is a topic for another day.

First, I would be remiss if I did not touch a little on last year and the tireless work of city staff as well as BIA staff in making the program the success that it was, after all in most parts it was being made up as we went and the ability to pivot and respond to the many challenges we faced was remarkable.

I would like to note one person in particular, Jodi Callan from Transportation Services who for the most part on our end was the face of the program and she excelled with every challenge and question put before her. There were others including many of your councilor’s staff.

Now to this year and this report. It includes several improvements that are most welcome that will make implementation significantly easier and the earlier start date will prove to be invaluable to our struggling restaurants.

One simple ask, on that front is that if installs could be completed just one week earlier say by May 15th, thus providing the restaurants the ability to animate and prepare for the ever popular, May 24th, weekend. As it stands there will be districts/BIAs/restaurants that could see their install the Friday of the long weekend, not giving them the opportunity to operate during this ever-important weekend.

(allowing decks and platforms will need some extra time to build out. But is a great safety feature)

One thing that has become clear over the past year is that there is a need for a WHO DOES WHAT document. As you know there are several divisions and departments involved in the implementation of this program not only to build it out but during its implementation. Some may call it an MOU, I simply refer to it as a WHO Does WHAT, with a designated contact and what the responsibilities of each division are and what the expectations of the city are of each BIA and restaurant. It’s simply a role document to a finely scripted play.

Staff have indicated a willingness to work on developing such a document in collaboration with us and our members in the hopes of creating a road map for success.

With CafeTO 2.0 well on its way, we must continue to find creative solutions for those restaurants in our city that don’t meet the parameters of this program due to any number of reasons, be it built form, road alignments or proximity to intersections.

Equity…for all restaurants should be our next priority. (Non Adjacency)

The other area of further consideration is providing a program for main street retailers who have effectively been shut down for the last two months, while we have all worked hard in helping them get on line and curbside pickup, consumer habits being what they are there is nothing as valuable for retailers to display their good. There are ways, we collectively need to let them know how.

Looking forward to sharing a drink on one of what I expect to be well over 1,000 patios this year.

Thank you for your time.