Signs of Anger
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Signs of Anger

Dario Saleki isn’t happy. In late May, he applied for a Boulevard Café Licence (the city’s fancy term for a patio permit) for his new Italian restaurant, La Veranda Osteria, which is located on the northwest corner of Bloor Street West and Royal York Road. It’s August now, and he’s still waiting for his permit. In the meantime, his empty patio is costing him business. Saleki blames the strike (which has created some licensing problems for restaurateurs) and the city’s bureaucracy for his woes, and in a pseudo–grass roots effort has put up several colourful signs in his windows urging Torontonians to complain to the city on his behalf.

Here’s what one sign reads:

We have been waiting since May 21.
Please, please, please help us by calling the CITY and telling them how much we want it!!! This is CANADA! (not a third world country!)

“The customers, they come everyday and ask, when?” Saleki told Torontoist. “It’s not like this patio is dangerous or blocking someone; it’s away from everything. It should be easy for them [the city] to do it, but they don’t want to do it…I’m hoping to have it done by the Taste of the Kingsway, in the second week of September, at least.” But Saleki suspects that the city will probably approve his patio just “as soon the first cold weather comes in.” We sympathize with Saleki, as the city’s bureaucracy can be frustrating, but equating Canada with a third-world country just because you can’t get a patio licence is simply ridiculous.
20090825signsofanger3.jpg To get the other side of the story we talked to Curtis Sealock, district manager of municipal licensing and standards for Etobicoke-York, and he told us that La Veranda’s problems have nothing to do with the strike and everything to do with the owner’s timing and poor planning. “In this particular case, the drawings provided were inadequate. The owner was told that, as was the gentleman that was representing the owner. That delayed the process.”
Getting a patio permit is a complex process. In addition to forms and inspections, every application has to be approved by a community council. “There is no council meeting in the summer months, so I can’t take anything to council,” explained Sealock. “If you bring your plans in in late June, there’s no council in July or August, so you can’t go forward…I phoned the owner as late as two days ago, and I’m still waiting for plans, because of the canopy which is up there, which is an encroachment, which I brought to their attention…I’ve asked for proper sets of plans to go forward, and I haven’t been given that.”
La Veranda’s garden patio looks like it’ll make a great addition to an otherwise dreary intersection, but if Saleki wants it, he’s going to have to play by the city’s rules, even if they are overly abstruse.
All photos by Stephen Michalowicz/Torontoist.