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Sidewalk Cafe Program Guidelines

A Sidewalk Café is an outdoor seating area, located within the public right-of-way, which functions as an outdoor seasonal extension of the primary business of food and/or beverage service and may include other outdoor seating areas. A Sidewalk Café requires a valid Sidewalk Café Permit as approved by the City of Windsor. There are three types of Sidewalk Cafés Permits offered through the City of Windsor:

3-Season Café: Operates from March 1st to November 30th.

Year-Round Café: Operates from January 1st to December 31st. A year-round café requires one (1) heater (propane or electric) for every ten (10) people that will occupy the sidewalk café, and heaters must be included on the Certificate of Insurance.

Mini Cafés: A non-licensed sidewalk café with a maximum of 2 small tables and 8 chairs. The mini café can be a maximum of 55 square feet and cannot extend more than 6 feet into the right-of-way. Railings are not required for a mini café.


In March 2016, City Council approved a resolution to institute a $0.50 incremental increase in annual sidewalk café fees over a six (6) year period.

The following was the annual fee breakdown:

  • 2016 season – $0.50/square foot
  • 2017 season – $1.00/square foot
  • 2018 season – $1.50/square foot
  • 2019 season – $2.00/square foot
  • 2020 season – $2.00/square foot

There are also additional costs that are applied to all three types of Sidewalk Café Permit applications:

  • Permit fee: $212.00
  • Indemnity fee (refundable upon final inspection): $1,000.00

Due to the rising permit costs and the indemnity fee, Sidewalk Cafés have become cost-prohibitive to downtown merchants, with many merchants no longer constructing sidewalk café enclosures. This is a negative trend that the DWBIA seeks to mitigate through a Sidewalk Café Program.


Sidewalk Cafés help create an atmosphere of pedestrian friendliness, vitality and walkability essential to the commercial vibrancy of the downtown. The Downtown Windsor BIA recognizes the positive effects of sidewalk café culture in the downtown, and deems it critical to explore ways of mitigating the Sidewalk Café Permit costs to downtown merchants.

The Sidewalk Café Program seeks to assist merchants by advancing the merchant the $1,000 refundable indemnity fee retained by the City as part of the Sidewalk Café Permit application. The DWBIA will enter into an agreement with approved merchants whereby the merchant will reimburse the $1,000 indemnity fee once said fees are refunded by the City.


Upon completing a Sidewalk Café Permit application, the merchant will be required to complete and submit a Sidewalk Café Program application form to the DWBIA. A copy of the Sidewalk Café Permit application will also be required. Applications will be reviewed by the DWBIA Board in accordance with the Program Guidelines listed below, and the City of Windsor’s Sidewalk Café Handbook. Subsidies will be awarded only to merchants whose Sidewalk Café applications have been approved by the City of Windsor. Applications will be assessed through three (3) categories: Mini Cafés, Restaurants, and Bars.

Mini Cafés: These sidewalk cafés are non-licensed and may include up to 2 small tables and 8 chairs. The Mini Cafés do not have an enclosure or affixed furniture. Mini Cafe applicants may include fast-casual, bistro and retail establishments.

Restaurants: These sidewalk cafés may be licensed but primarily serve food. These may include an enclosure with affixed furniture.

Bars/Pubs: These sidewalk cafés are licensed and primarily serve alcoholic beverages. These may also include an enclosure with affixed furniture.


  • The applicant must show proof that the business is registered in Ontario as a Corporation, Sole Proprietorship, or Partnership.
  • The maximum amount of funding available per applicant or business establishment shall be $1,000 for one twelve (12) month period or season. Funding will be subject to review by the DWBIA Board in subsequent years.
  • The applicant must reimburse the DWBIA once the $1,000 indemnity fee is refunded by the City. The applicant will be given 30 days to reimburse the DWBIA, after which a collection agency may be involved.
  • The applicant must agree to remain in business and to not sell or assign such business to another person or entity for a period of twelve (12) months from the date of initial funding.
  • In the event the business (applicant) fails to remain open, or the business or property is sold or transferred within 12 months from the date of initial funding, the applicant shall reimburse the DWBIA for the total amount received. The applicant will be given 30 days from the date of closure to reimburse the DWBIA, after which a collection agency may be involved.

Application and Approval

  • Prior to completing and filing an application with the DWBIA for patio funding, the applicant must be in receipt of a valid and current sidewalk cafe permit from the City of Windsor.
  • Applicant will be required to submit a copy of the City’s sidewalk cafe permit along with their application.
  • The DWBIA Board may request that an applicant attend at a Committee Meeting to discuss their application.
  • The DWBIA may award funding to an applicant with certain provisions, conditions, and/or other requirements that it deems necessary.
  • Funding will be awarded at the sole discretion of the DWBIA’s Board of Directors.
  • Successful applicants will be notified, within 90 days of receipt of application, of funding approval.
  • Successful applicants will be required to acknowledge the DWBIA’s funding support via postings on social media. Applicants will also require you to regularly (once per month) promote the DWBIA, and member businesses or events (i.e. the Famers Market) on their social media accounts.


  • The DWBIA will award funding on a first come, first serve basis.
  • Up to fifteen (15) applications may be approved in 2019.
  • Funding applications received after the budget is exhausted may be considered for funding during the next cycle of Sidewalk Café Permit applications.
  • For funding to be awarded, the applicant must remain in good standing with the DWBIA and adhere to all DWBIA standards.
  • Prior to receipt of the funding, the applicant must provide the DWBIA with a copy of the City’s current sidewalk cafe permit.
  • Prior to receipt of the funding, the applicant must provide the DWBIA will documentation denoting their ownership of the property. If the property is leased, the applicant must provide a letter from their landlord consenting to the construction of a sidewalk cafe at said address.
  • All funding is subject to the DWBIA’s budget and may be withdrawn at any time at the sole discretion of the DWBIA.
  • Approval and funding can take up to 90 days from date of submission.


The applicant or merchant is responsible for any damage to the right-of-way, and is liable for its repair. Damages must be repaired by the end of the season before the final inspection by the City’s Engineering Department Inspector. Failure to repair damages could result in the rejection of future applications and other DWBIA programs and services.

Smoke-Free Ontario Act

In accordance with the Smoke-Free Ontario Act, no smoking or vaping is allowed at a sidewalk café, or areas within 9 metres of the sidewalk café. Violation of these regulations could result in the rejection of future applications.

Next Steps

For any questions please contact us.

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