Apply for site plan approval

Site plan approval is required for most land development before a building permit is issued. For example, when land or building use is substantially changed or the size is increased. 

On this page

  1. When to proceed directly to building permit application
  2. Learn about the site plan review committee
  3. Apply for mandatory pre-submission consultation
  4. Submit a formal site application
  5. How to pay fees
  6. View municipal system alterations requirements

When to proceed directly to building permit application

Within the City of Waterloo, most land development requires site plan approval before a building permit is issued.  Site plan approval is not required for the following types of land development, construction and site alteration:  

  • development on a parcel of land containing no more than 10 residential units, and no other land uses  
  • education institutional development, as defined by the Site Plan Control By-law
  • farm related development, as defined by the Site Plan Control By-law
  • extractive uses, as defined by the Site Plan Control By-law
  • construction or alteration of a building or structure, which does not have the effect of substantially increasing the size or usability of the building or site, as confirmed through consultation with the city’s Site Plan Review Committee 
  • site works not requiring a building permit, other than the laying out and establishment of a commercial parking lot or the locating of three or more trailers, as confirmed through consultation with the City’s Site Plan Review Committee  

If a property has previously approved site plans and a site plan agreement registered on title, the Site Plan Review Committee must be consulted to confirm whether site plan approval is required for the proposed development, construction and/or site alteration.


Learn about the Site Plan Review Committee

Applications are reviewed by the Site Plan Review Committee (SPRC) acting according to the Site Plan Control Bylaw.

The committee consists of a team of city staff from different divisions, such as Planning, Transportation Services, Engineering Services, and Building Standards, and representatives from other applicable review agencies, such as the Region of Waterloo, Enova Power, Grand River Conservation Authority, and Enbridge Gas.

The director of Planning has delegated authority to grant final site plan approval.

The site plan coordinator is Victoria Gignac. Contact Victoria by email to victoria.gignac@waterloo.ca or by telephone at 519-747-8583.

The committee chairperson is Amanda Wyszynski. Contact Amanda by email to amanda.wyszynski@waterloo.ca or by telephone at 519-886-1550 ext 78759 .


Apply for mandatory pre-submission consultation

Before you begin

You will need to determine if your proposal requires a zoning bylaw or Official Plan amendment. These amendments must be completed before submitting a site plan application unless otherwise directed by the city’s Planning division.  If amendments are required, start that process by submitting a pre-submission consultation request for a zoning bylaw or Official Plan amendment.

View the zone change application page, review the zoning bylaw and review the Official Plan to determine if your site plan application should go through that process first.

Pre-submission consultation process for site plan application

  1. Apply for a pre-submission consultation by emailing preconsultation@waterloo.ca
    • Required documents to include:
      • cover letter
      • application form (PDF)
      • site plan
      • floorplans
      • building elevations
      • lighting (photometric) plan
      • landscape plan
      • functional grading plan
      • functional servicing plan
      • for buildings with a height of 6 storeys or more, or 3 storeys or more in Uptown, a preliminary wind assessment
      • for buildings with a height of 6 storeys or more, or 3 storeys or more in Uptown, a preliminary shadow analysis
      • Section 59 Notice. Create the source water protection map on the Region of Waterloo website.
    • view the terms of reference documents to help you create the supporting documents
  2. Pay the fee of $405 by one of the payment methods stated below.
  3. The site plan coordinator will schedule the pre-submission consultation meeting and you must attend. 
  4. The site plan coordinator will circulate your submission and be in contact within 10 business days to let you know if the application can be deemed complete. They will circulate the submission to the required reviewers.
  5. Within 3 to 4 weeks, the record of Site Plan Pre-Application Consultation will be issued by the Site Plan Review Committee to the applicant, containing initial comments on the proposal and advising of the application type and submission requirements for a complete site plan application. The Record of Site Plan Pre-Application Consultation is typically valid for up to 2 years, after which it may only be deemed valid by the director of Planning or their designate.

Meetings are still available with the Site Plan Review Committee upon request. Please contact the
Site Plan Coordinator to schedule.


Submit a formal site plan application

Following your pre-consultation meeting, applications must be completed by the owner or authorized agent proposing a site plan.

Prior to submitting a complete site plan application, other planning approvals required for a specific proposal must be in place.  Other required approvals will be identified in the Record of Site Plan Pre-Application Consultation, and may include: 

  • Minor Variance
  • Zoning By-law Amendment, including Lifting of Holding (H)
  • Official Plan Amendment
  • Plan of Subdivision
  • Consent
  • Part Lot Control

The director of Planning or their designate may on occasion allow exceptions to this requirement, at their discretion.

Site plan application process

1. Apply for site plan approval

Submit a complete application for Site Plan Approval (PDF), containing the fees, forms, plans, documents, reports, and other materials listed in the Record of Site Plan Pre-Application Consultation, as issued by the Site Plan Review Committee.

All of the documents and materials listed in the Record of Site Plan Pre-Application Consultation issued by the SPRC and the site plan approval application must be submitted.

Submit all materials and the application to siteplan@waterloo.ca

Once the application is received, the Site Plan Chair and/or Coordinator will be in contact within 10 business days to deem the application complete or incomplete, and indicate that the application has been circulated for written comments.

2. Pay the application fee

Pay the applicable application fee by mail, courier or in person.

The fees are updated annually on September 1. The current fees are:

Application type

Fees

September 1, 2022 to August 31, 2023

Fees

September 1, 2023 to August 31, 2024

Standard site plan – pre-application consultation 

 

$390.00

$405.00

Standard site plan

 

$6,075.00

$9,875.00

Standard site plan – resubmission with significant redesign

 

$1,215.00

$1,265.00

Major site plan – pre-application consultation

$390.00

$930.00
Major site plan

 

$9,065.00

$20,250.00

Major site plan – resubmission with significant redesign

$1,815.00

$1,890.00

Site plan amendment

$1,220.00 $1,270.00

Incomplete site plan 

$135.00 $140.00

 

3. The SPRC will review your application and provide a formal position

Applications will be reviewed for completeness by the Site Plan Coordinator.

  • Complete applications will be circulated for review immediately upon being deemed complete by the Site Plan Coordinator, with a notification to the applicant. 
  • Incomplete applications will be refused by the Site Plan Coordinator, with a notification to the applicant as to what is missing and/or insufficient.  

A Record of Site Plan Review will be issued by the SPRC to the applicant with detailed comments and the formal position of the committee on the application. 

Formal positions include: Resubmission, Conditional Endorsement, or Full Endorsement.  Subject to functional acceptance of civil engineering plans and related information, Engineering Services staff will advise when a detailed engineering submission will be accepted.

Consider the following in the preparation of your submission:

  • Planning Act (Section 41 – Site Plan Control)
  • Interactive Mapping
  • Zoning By-law
  • Official Plan
  • Urban Design Manual
  • Site Plan Control By-law
  • City of Waterloo's Comprehensive Design Guidelines and Requirements Manual
  • Accessibility Standards
4. Address any outstanding matters and resubmit your application

If the Record of Site Plan Review requires a resubmission, it must be submitted in digital format to siteplan@waterloo.ca.  

Matters outlined in the Record of Site Plan Review must be resolved and/or responded to in the resubmission.  The site plan coordinator will review and circulate the resubmitted site plans and supporting documents, if necessary. Another Record of Site Plan Review will be issued by the SPRC with a formal position on the resubmission. This step is repeated until the SPRC issues a conditional or full endorsement of the application.

5. Site Plan Review Committee provides endorsement

Once a full endorsement is issued by the SPRC, the director of Planning provides final review and approval.  The director has the authority to request modifications to the plans and/or additional information.

6. Director of Planning grants approval

Where there are no modifications required by the Director, the plans receive a formal stamp of approval from the director, which is typically conditional.

7. You must complete any outstanding legal requirements
This step is required where there are agreements (such as special servicing agreements), easements or other legal requirements to be completed prior to the registration of the site plan agreement, which may be completed after the plans are stamped, at the discretion of the director of Planning. 
8. Site plan agreement is registered by the legal department
Once the plans are stamped by the director, all legal requirements are completed, and the cost estimates for securities are accepted by the City, the City will prepare a site plan agreement as authorized by the Planning Act.  The agreement is signed by an Authorized Representative of the City of Waterloo, owner(s) of the property, and mortgagee(s), prior to the agreement being registered on title to the property.  The city will provide an invoice to the applicant or owner for all costs associated with agreement preparation and registration. 
9. Final site plan approval is released

Once the site plan agreement is registered on title, the site plan coordinator will send notification to the applicant of final release of site plan approval, along with digital copies of the approved plans and registered site plan agreement. 

Once this step is completed, prior to undertaking any construction or site alteration activity, the applicant must then obtain all other necessary approvals and permits (such as final engineering approval, demolition control approval, demolition permit, building permit), and pay applicable fees and securities (such as site plan / engineering securities, parkland cash in lieu, development charges), before commencing construction or site works.


How to pay the application fees

The City of Waterloo accepts payment in-person by debit, cash, or cheque.

Address cheques to The Corporation of the City of Waterloo and include the site plan's property address on the envelope or cheque. 

Deliver payment by mail, courier or in-person.

By mail to:

Waterloo City Centre (IPPW, Planning Division, second floor)
100 Regina St. S.
P.O. Box 337, Station Waterloo
Waterloo ON, Canada, N2J 4A8

In-person or sent by courier to:

Waterloo City Centre (IPPW, Planning Division, second floor)
100 Regina St. S.
Waterloo ON, Canada, N2J 4P9


Municipal system alterations

Municipal systems alterations require a separate application. The process and forms to request an alteration are on the water utilities infrastructure page.