Caroline
Newbie August 2021 Ontario

Outdoor Reception Rules: Event Space or Outdoor Gathering?

Caroline, on July 7, 2021 at 14:53 Posted in Ontario 0 6
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Hi all,

Hoping for some clarity with this one. The current Stage 2 rules say that a wedding ceremony is allowed as long as everyone is 2 meters apart (no capacity restriction seems to be outlined). They then go on to clarify that the term "wedding" being used is for the ceremony only, not the reception which out be an outdoor gathering (max 25 people).

The rules also have a dedicated section for rented Meeting & Event Spaces which outline 25% capacity (square footage of the outdoor space divided by 16) which in my case would be 118 people (1900 square feet). Given that my reception is at an approved event space, my understanding is that it falls under the "Event Space" capacity rules.

My caterer told me that all wedding receptions, even at an event space, automatically fall under the outdoor gathering restrictions... I'm not sure how that would make sense since under that logic a birthday party or corporate party would be able to rent my exact same event space at 118 people, but for some reason specifically a wedding cannot be held? My event space has confirmed that my reception would fall under the "Event Space" rules but my caterer is refusing to cater for more than 25 people.

Can anyone please confirm if you've had this issue between outdoor gathering vs even spaces when it comes to your outdoor reception?

Thank you!

6 Comments

Latest activity by Caroline, on July 7, 2021 at 18:19
  • Caroline
    Newbie August 2021 Ontario
    Caroline ·
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    That's a great idea. They do serve food, so I'll check if they have their food license but I would think they do... And they have a full kitchen so yes, maybe if the caterer just uses it, it would be fine?

    Thank you!

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  • Hank
    Featured September 2021 Ontario
    Hank ·
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    Dancing is not licensed, so it's an activity that can take place anywhere. The clause to ban it ensures it won't happen.

    Food service is licensed. If the venue doesn't have a food license, it can't serve food anyway.

    Because your venue is not the one preparing and serving the food, the restaurant rules don't apply. It might be different if the caterer is using the venue kitchen facilities overseen by the venue manager. Maybe get your venue to talk directly to the caterer?

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  • Caroline
    Newbie August 2021 Ontario
    Caroline ·
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    Interesting... So according to what you outlined, Meeting & Event Spaces are exempt from the "Outdoor Gathering" rules... But only for non-food related events? You're right that they don't mention anything about food in the Meetings & Events section but I would think that if it were prohibited, they would have mentioned it since they specifically call out no dancing. I feel like I'm in some crazy puzzle. So below I had read:

    Schedule 2 "Restaurants & Bars" Section 4:(4) For greater certainty, any business, place, facility or establishment at which food or drink is sold or served, including those referred to in section 4 of Schedule 1 and sections 3, 5, 10, 24, 26, 34, 35 and 36 of this Schedule, is a food or drink establishment to which this section applies
    I had thought that this covered me in terms of allowing for food service at the event. But now I'm all confused.
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  • Hank
    Featured September 2021 Ontario
    Hank ·
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    "Is it the fact that the caterer is from outside the actual event space that I'm having an issue?"

    I think so.

    If you look at SCHEDULE 3, SECTION 1, it states:

    For greater certainty, the limits in clause (1) (c) apply to a social gathering associated with a wedding, a funeral or a religious service, rite or ceremony, such as a wedding reception

    And SCHEDULE 3, SECTION 3 states:

    Exceptions from social gathering requirements

    3.1 The prohibitions on attendance at a social gathering in subclause 1 (1) (b) (ii) do not apply with respect to attendance at,

    (a) a meeting or event space operating in compliance with section 4 of Schedule 1;

    (b) a food or drink establishment operating in compliance with section 1 of Schedule 2;

    So the 25% deal for meeting and event spaces seem to be geared towards meetings and sit down based events without food and drink, like lectures or town halls, while wedding receptions are specifically outlined in Schedule 3 section 1 ie private gathering limits. Because certain venues are running their own food operation and are therefore technically a restaurant, that hard number limit doesn't apply. Notice how Section 4 makes no mention of food in their other uses clauses? I think the event space rule is based on spaces that can be used for events but not necessarily a food handling premise. And if your caterer is not using the venue's kitchen to make and serve the food, then they're technically not operating as a restaurant.

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  • Caroline
    Newbie August 2021 Ontario
    Caroline ·
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    Thanks so much Hank! That's very helpful to understand. Schedule 1 Section 4 (4) [further down from what you mentioned about the camps] it does call out that event spaces can be rented for purposes outside of those listed, as long as they following the following guidelines (capacity 25%, 6 people per table, no dancing, and the list goes on...) which is why I thought receptions would fall under that specific clause.

    I'd have to check on my event spaces' food license. I know that they serve food there, they just aren't equipped to serve the food for my wedding. Is it the fact that the caterer is from outside the actual event space that I'm having an issue?

    Understood on the square footage. I used the entire outdoor patio space, where they usually have tables & chairs set up. So it isn't the "total" outdoor space available, but specific to that patio section.

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  • Hank
    Featured September 2021 Ontario
    Hank ·
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    Event spaces in Step 2 are technically only allowed to operate for very specific reasons: camp, child care, social services, government services, etc. A wedding reception can only be allowed in an event space if the space has a valid food handling license, which would make them a "restaurant" and therefore an operator that can control that kind of thing. It sounds like because your caterer is an external vendor and therefore not the operator nor a contractor of the venue, they're using the private gathering rules. It's like getting take out and bringing it to your backyard.

    Does your venue normally seat 190 people in a dining capacity outdoors though? I ask this because you mention a space of 1900 sq ft and dinner seating is usually 10 sq ft per person at normal events. While event venues are allowed 25% of their outdoor space, this calculation is based on what is normally used as the event area, not the total square footage based on its combined outdoor real estate. For example, if your venue is a golf course with several acres of land that has a cafe patio that normally seats 40 people pre-covid for refreshments, you wouldn't calculate the your gathering limit based on space that includes the green. It would be 25% of whatever that space that seats 40 is.

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