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Café permits, Patio permits, and Vending on the right of way

COVID-19 impact

The City of Ottawa is continuing to provide assistance to support the re-opening of local businesses. On Wednesday September 9, 2020, City council continued the waiving of fees for all patio and café permits and extended the summer ROW patio season to November 15.

City council has also extended the Temporary Zoning By-law Amendment for patios on private property to December 31, 2020. A private patio process has been created to allow businesses to operate during these unprecedented times and support the local economy in Ottawa. If you are interested in establishing a temporary private patio, please follow the steps below.

Fact sheet [ 69.2 KB ]

Café seating permit

The Café Seating program allows businesses to place limited outdoor seating on the road allowance. The limit to café seating has been lifted and until December 31, 2020 alcohol can be served at the café seating as long as all requirements of the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario are met.

A Café Seating Permit is an annual permit.

Approximate cost

  • $62.00 annual processing fee
  • All other fees have been waived

Approximate timeline

  • Approved upon application and receipt of proof of insurance by the City.

Issuance of a café seating permit is conditional upon the following requirements

  • Payment of the Café Seating Permit fee
  • Proof of Commercial Liability Insurance

Permit Requirements:

  • Allowing at all times the required minimum unencumbered sidewalk width of 2.0 metres
  • Not obstructing or interfering with public travel, any public service, or maintenance operations
  • Tables and chairs must at all times be against the wall of the building
  • Tables and chairs must be removed by 11 p.m. each night
  • Maximum 2 permits per location

Who to contact

Please send an email to the Right-of-Way Permit Office

Where to apply

Please email the Right-of-Way permit office to obtain an application.

Are you planning to open a restaurant, bakery, café, butcher shop or another type of food establishment? The City of Ottawa has resources to assist business owners who are starting to plan and operate a new food establishment, including the Business Ambassador Service and the online Food Premises Application tool available on My ServiceOttawa.

Right of way patio permit

The Right of way patio program allows businesses, such as bars, restaurants and cafés, to put outdoor seating on the right of way. An initial review and approval in accordance with the provisions of the Right of way (ROW) patio by-law is required, after which permits may be issued.

The permit for a ROW patio sets out which months during a season the patio may be on the right of way. There are two patio seasons, a summer season (April 1 to October 31) and a winter patio season (November 1 to March 31). For this season only, Council extended the ROW summer patio season to November 15. If you have a summer patio permit, your permit will be automatically extended to November 15. This year, the winter season will begin on November 16 until March 31. A permit is required for each season the patio is to be on the right of way. More information on the winter ROW patio season (November 16 to March 31) is below.

Approximate cost

Approval process

  • $340.00 First Time Review Fee
  • $567.00 First Time Review fee if public circulation is required

Permit fees

  • $62.00 Permit Processing Fee
  • All other fees have been waived

Approximate timeline

  • 10 business days

Application Forms

Who to contact

Please send an email to the Right-of-Way Permit Office Where to apply

Where to apply

Please send your completed electronic application to the Right-of-Way Permit Office

Are you planning to open a restaurant, bakery, café, butcher shop or another type of food establishment? The City of Ottawa has resources to assist business owners who are starting to plan and operate a new food establishment, including the Business Ambassador Service and the online Food Premises Application tool available on My ServiceOttawa.

Patios on private property

The Patio program has been established to support local businesses during the unprecedented time. It has been set up to allow businesses, such as bars, restaurants and cafés, to establish temporary outdoor private patios. Council has recently extended the temporary private patio program to December 31, 2020. If you are interested in establishing a temporary private patio on private property up until December 31, 2020, please follow the steps below.

If you already have established a temporary private patio through this program and wish to extend it up to December 31, 2020, you do not have to register again with the City. More information on the winter patio season is below:

  1. Determine if the proposed temporary patio within 30 metres of a Residential Zone and confirm that the proposed temporary patio does not require a building permit, by contacting one of the City’s Development Information Officers at:
    1. DIOLaurier@ottawa.ca; 613-580-2424 ext. 28333
    2. DIOKanata@ottawa.ca; 613-580-2424 ext. 33321
    3. DIOCentrum@ottawa.ca; 613-580-2424 ext. 29242
    4. DIOCentrepointe@ottawa.ca; 613-580-2424 ext.41250
  2. If the patio is not within 30 m of a Residential Zone and is temporary in nature (no building permit is required), skip step 3 and follow the General Requirements listed below.
  3. If the patio is within 30 m of a Residential Zone, please complete the one-page application form and follow the General Requirements listed below.
  4. Once the City receives the completed form, City staff will contact you regarding the property owner notification and provide the Ward Councillor notification of the proposed temporary patio.

General requirements for all temporary patios on private property for 2020:

  1. If alcohol is being served, all requirements are met under the Liquor License Act and applicable requirements of the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) including the required Letter of Non-Objection from the municipality.
  2. All applicable municipal by-laws are adhered to, including Noise By-law 2017-255 
  3. Ottawa Public Health requirements and guidance
  4. On-site parking may be used for temporary patio space, except the required number of designated spaces under the Accessibility for Ontarians Disability Act, 2005, which must remain available for parking use as per Traffic and Parking By-law 2017-301
  5. The business owner of a temporary patio will mitigate any negative impacts on abutting or nearby residential use, including prioritizing the use of the right of way land before utilizing private space near residential uses.
  6. Temporary patios must meet all Accessibility Standards under the Accessibility for Ontarians Disability Act, 2005.
  7. A clear path of pedestrian travel of 2.0m (6’-6”) minimum should be maintained. A clear path of 2.3m (7’-6”) is recommended.
  8. All requirements of the Ontario Fire Code must be met.
  9. Please refer to updated information regarding tents and awnings on Building Code Services webpage.

Approximate cost

  • No cost

Approximate timeline

  • 10 business days

Application form

Application form - Patios on private property

Who to contact

Please send an email to the Right-of-Way Permit Office. 

Are you planning to open a restaurant, bakery, café, butcher shop or another type of food establishment? The City of Ottawa has resources to assist business owners who are starting to plan and operate a new food establishment, including the Business Ambassador Service and the online Food Premises Application tool available on My ServiceOttawa.

Vending on the right of way

For 2020 only, the Vending on the right of way program allows businesses to expand on the road allowance to assist businesses with physical distancing requirements. A retail pop up is a small retail expansion onto the sidewalk immediately in front of the store. A retail patio is a larger expansion into an available on-street parking space in front of the storefront.

A Vending on the right of way permit and application fee is required.

Approximate cost

  • $62.00 retail pop up annual processing fee
  • $402 ($62.00 plus a $340 circulation fee) retail patio annual processing fee

Approximate timeline

  • 10 business days

Issuance of a vending on the right of way permit is conditional upon the following requirements

  • Payment of the Permit fee
  • Proof of Commercial Liability Insurance

Permit Requirements:

  • Allowing at all times the required minimum unencumbered sidewalk width of 2.0 metres
  • Not obstructing or interfering with public travel, any public service, or maintenance operations
  • For retail patios:
    • On a street with a speed limit less than 50 km/hr or less
    • If located in an existing on-street parking space subject to time limits, may affect operating hours

Who to contact

Please send an email to the Right-of-Way Permit Office

Where to apply

Please email the Right-of-Way permit office to obtain an application.

Are you planning to open a restaurant, bakery, café, butcher shop or another type of food establishment? The City of Ottawa has resources to assist business owners who are starting to plan and operate a new food establishment, including the Business Ambassador Service and the online Food Premises Application tool available on My ServiceOttawa.

Winter patios

Download a one-page fact sheet for winter patios.

Patios in the Right of Way

Anyone wishing to operate a winter patio must obtain a winter patio permit. Winter patio permits are available from November 15, 2020 to March 31, 2021.

Patios on Private Property

Council has also extended the Temporary Zoning By-law amendment for patios on private property to December 31st to align with the Alcohol and Gaming Commission’s (AGCO) temporary extension for liquor licensing. The City continues to engage in discussions with the Province regarding the need for a continued AGCO temporary extension into 2021.

There is no need to register with the City again for an extension to operate a patio on private property until December 31.

Heating of Patios and Blankets

TSSA has prepared a fact sheet regarding heaters on outdoor patios. All heaters must be approved for use in Canada and installed and operated as per the manufacturer’s instructions including proper ventilation and maintaining recommended clearances to combustibles and customers. All appropriate portable extinguishers are required to be on location. The type and size of portable extinguishers is relative to the size of patio and number of heaters in use. Patio Operators must also adhere to all requirements of the Ontario Fire Code.

For any inquiries related to fire pits, open-air fires or specific questions related to heating patios, please contact FirePrevention@ottawa.ca.

Please be advised that Ottawa Public Health has recommended that either customers bring their own blankets or if blankets are provided, that they are laundered in between uses. It is also important to ensure that combustibles, such as blankets, are kept away from any heating sources.

Covered Patios – Tents and other types of structures

Building Code Services, Ottawa Public Health and Fire Services have advised that at least two sides of any structure (i.e. walls) must be open while the patio is in operation, regardless of the weather. This is to ensure adequate air circulation because of COVID-19 and to avoid carbon monoxide build up from heating sources.

Anyone wishing to continue using or installing some form of covered structure for the winter season, needs to review the requirements as per Building Code Services and ensure that all requirements have been met. Building Code Services will continue to expedite permit approvals for tents, patios, awnings and canopies within 5 business days. Please contact Building Code Services directly for any inquiries at buildingpermits@ottawa.ca.

Physical Distancing

Continued diligence with physical distancing of customers is of upmost importance. Please ensure any modifications to the layout of patios (such as heater locations, seating layout) respect the minimum 2 metre physical distancing requirements. Please note that in accordance with the Province’s Stage 3 legislation, standing on patio, other than to exit/enter a patio, paying for or picking up food, or walking to the washroom is not permitted.

Cost

Permit fees

  • $62.00 Permit Processing Fee
  • All other fees have been waived

Requirements

All requirements listed above need to be met for the winter patio season.

If you currently have a summer ROW patio permit and wish to obtain a winter ROW patio permit (November 16 to March 31), please contact the ROW Permit Office to request a permit.

If you are currently operating a summer patio on private property and wish to continue to do so past November 15, please ensure you are meeting all of the above requirements including ensuring that all Building Code Requirements are met for any tents or covered structures. For any questions, please email patios@ottawa.ca.