City pro­poses dra­matic in­crease in pa­tio fees

Small busi­nesses on con­struc­tion-plagued Eglin­ton say new fee puts them in jeop­ardy

Midtown Post - - News | Neighbourhood - by Jes­sica Wei

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 will be held 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.

“For the last three years, peo­ple didn’t want to sit on the pa­tio.”

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

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