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Temporary Outdoor Patios & Tents: Burlington City Council Approves Bylaw Amendments, Program Changes & Extension to Encourage Economic Recovery During COVID-19


*Please see below a media release issued by the City of Burlington.

Burlington, Ont. — Nov. 3, 2020 — At a Special Virtual Meeting of Burlington City Council on Monday, Nov. 2Council approved the extension and amendments of the temporary patio bylaws to Oct. 31, 2021.

Council also approved amendments to make sure winterized temporary covered patios or tents on private property are safe to protect both restaurant customers and staff. Bylaw, fire, snow clearance and zoning requirements need to be met to protect public health and safety in the event of heavy snowfall, ice or the need to evacuate a tent or building.

The City of Burlington is also offering a grant program to reimburse the costs of building permit fees in the estimated total amount of $5,000 from the Tax Rate Stabilization Reserve Fund for outdoor patios and tent structures when a building permit is required, with an expiry date of Oct. 31, 2021. This will save applicants the $280 application fee for a zoning permit for such tents.

Restaurants that have existing outdoor patio agreements with the City of Burlington and would like to operate a patio throughout the winter must inform the City of Burlington by Nov. 8, 2020.

“Allowing businesses to winterize their patios and outdoor spaces brings a new dynamic to keeping everyone safe. City staff is committed to working with interested businesses on a case-by-case basis to consider how their outdoor patios and tent structures can operate through the winter and beyond while maintaining public safety and achieving legislative compliance. I encourage businesses to contact us so that we can provide them with the information they will need before making investment decisions.” — Heather MacDonald, Executive Director of Community Planning, City of Burlington

Through a Winter Patio Task Force, a restaurant that expresses interest in operating their patio throughout the winter season on public land will be evaluated to ensure health and safety measures are upheld, including provincial regulations such as the Ontario Building Code, Ontario Fire Code, maintenance obligations under the Municipal Act, 2001 and minimum maintenance standards on public right of ways, public health regulations and relevant local bylaws. The overall safety of the public on the City’s rights of way, such as sidewalks, will also be considered.

The City’s Zoning Bylaw would be amended to remove the current time limitations of temporary structures and tents up to 60 m2 to instead permit temporary structures until Oct. 31, 2021. While temporary structures of this size will be subject to the guidelines contained within the temporary use bylaw, this amendment will provide increased flexibility to restaurants.

City staff are committed to reviewing applications and granting approvals and agreements as fast as possible to help local restaurants and businesses understand how they can safely operate an outdoor patio during the winter season.

Updated guidelines for temporary patios and tents can be found on the City’s website at Contact the City’s Special Business Area Coordinator: or 905-335-7600, ext. 7445 for more information.

This is part of the City of Burlington’s reopening response to the COVID-19 virus while protecting its staff and residents.

Earlier this year, Council approved bylaw amendments to allow temporary patios on private property to Jan 1, 2021. The temporary bylaw was passed to help local businesses operate during these unprecedented times and protect public health and safety.

Mayor Meed Ward’s Take:

These initiatives will continue to help some of our restaurants and retail businesses across the city stay open as we continue to face COVID-19 in Burlington. Council, staff and local businesses are continuing to work together to cut red tape and adapt to this new normal. We must continue to follow public health guidelines, including social distancing. Winterized patios will help give local businesses that extra space to continue serving their customers in the safest way possible.

Links and Resources:

PLEASE NOTE: To stay updated on what the City of Burlington is doing regarding COVID-19, please visit the dedicated pages (and subscribe) and, and our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page — that are updated as new information becomes available.

A Burlington COVID-19 Task Force has been created to help support our community through this unprecedented emergency — updates will be provided at

To report an incident of non-compliance with provincial emergency orders, please contact the Halton Regional Police Service COVID-19 Hotline: 905-825-4722.

We’ve also created a dedicated page to feature the local organizations and businesses that have inspired us during the COVID-19 pandemic by taking action to support our community in new and creative ways — head to


*Posted by John Bkila, Mayor’s Media and Digital Communications Specialist

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Media Specialist: John Bkila