Local economic recovery

Find out how to expand your business offerings during the pandemic through temporary patios, pop-ups in parking areas, patio expansions, pop-ups of all businesses on private lands and city lands.


On this page

  1. What you can apply for
  2. Before you apply
  3. Apply for a road closure to extend a patio
  4. Apply for patio in the Uptown located on a sidewalk
  5. Apply for other patios, pop-ups, and signage
  6. About S.O.L.E.R.

What you can apply for

The S.O.L.E.R. (Support Our Local Economic Recovery) initiative focuses on short-term planning to support local businesses, subject to licencing for commercial purposes. Applications are open for:

  1. Close roads for extended patio use during summer months.
  2. Patio or other commercial purposes on:
    • private and public parking lots
    • open space areas on private property
    • city land
  3. Signage on city land to promote any type of local business.

Before you apply

Please ensure you have met all general requirements laid out below and have a site drawing that shows your intended purpose.

General requirements

  1. It is the responsibility of the applicant to ensure all provincial orders and public health directives, guidelines and procedures established by the Government and Regional Medical Officer of Health are strictly adhered to and complied with, without exception.
  2. The property lines shall be clearly shown on the sketch/site drawing. 
  3. The proposed temporary patio/pop-up (the “use”) shall be clearly delineated on the sketch/site drawing.
  4. The use shall not obstruct any:
    1. fire exit, fire route, fire hydrant or fire connection.
    2. walkway/ramp required for barrier free access.
    3. sight lines or create an unsafe condition.
    4. obstruct or eliminate accessible parking spaces, which may be temporarily relocated to satisfaction of the Director of Planning.
  5. The use shall not conflict with vehicle movements.
  6. The use shall not damage or result in the removal of trees or vegetation.
  7. No grade or site engineering shall be altered or undertaken, unless approved by the City’s Director of Engineering Services.
  8. Parking demands for the development shall be satisfied on-site, and shall not adversely impact surrounding lands.
  9. Where located adjacent to a building, the use must maintain a minimum 1.8 metre wide unobstructed pathway from the door to the sidewalk or parking area.
  10. The applicant shall maintain a minimum 1.8m entrance/exit to the use.
  11. The travel distance from all occupied areas shall be maintained in compliance with the applicable Ontario Building Code requirements.
  12. Exiting from the building and use shall be maintained in compliance with the applicable Ontario Building Code requirements.
  13. For patios, the number of patrons within the building and patio combined shall not exceed the total occupant load (capacity) of the restaurant or be increased, in compliance with the applicable Ontario Building Code requirements.
  14. Shall comply with the requirements of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act.
  15. Shall comply with all applicable law, including the Ontario Building Code.
  16. An outdoor patio within any yard abutting a Low Rise Residential Area (as defined in the City’s Zoning Bylaw) is prohibited by zoning, and therefore not allowed.
  17. Noise resulting from the use shall not create an adverse effect, and shall be in compliance with City Noise Bylaw 2010-073 as amended.
  18. If part of a neighbouring property or shared driveway is being affected as a result of the proposed use, a letter of consent from the neighbouring property owner is required.

If you plan on having heaters on your patio, please review TSSA website for patio heater safety.

Sketch/site drawing

The following should be indicated on the sketch/site drawing:

  1. Existing property line, site conditions, and location of the proposed use.
  2. Entrances and exits to the use and the building(s).
  3. Barrier free paths of travel and accessible parking spaces.
  4. Trees and other landscaped areas adjacent to or in proximity to the proposed use.
  5. Site utilities such as hydro poles, hydro lines, hydro vaults, hydro transformers, bell boxes, fire hydrants in close proximity to the proposed use (note: clearance from hydro and natural gas infrastructure may be required if there is a conflict).
  6. Street trees, street furniture, travel paths in proximity to the proposed use.
  7. Fire route (whether on site or adjacent to the site).
  8. Outdoor garbage and recycling facilities and related service routes in proximity to the use.
  9. Fencing (if proposed).
  10. Protection barriers to protect patrons from vehicles (e.g., jersey barriers or equivalent complemented by landscape planters).
  11. Label any component of the existing site that is being temporarily altered or removed (e.g. garbage bins) to accommodate the proposed use.
  12. If a temporary raised platform is proposed, details of the proposed platform (including dimensions, height above grade, materials). A railing may be required for safety purposes.
  13. Are any new structures or temporary enclosures (e.g., tents) proposed? A building permit may be required. A description of the proposed structure/enclosure and its location must be shown on the sketch/site drawing.
  14. Location of any outdoor temporary washrooms and/or wash stations proposed.
  15. Indicate if outdoor stereo equipment is proposed.
  16. Any other information requested by the City of Waterloo identified through the application review process.
  17. The inclusion of temporary planter boxes and other beautification components are encouraged to enhance the customer experience and delineate the patio footprint.
  18. Any permanent or extended improvements/structures to the site will require approval through Site Plan Control.

Example of site drawing

 Example site drawing of temporary outdoor patio

Apply for a road closure to extend a patio

Road closures operate in the City of Waterloo from April 15 to October 31, 2021.

Who can apply for a road closure permit

  • any restaurant operating within the City of Waterloo that has street front access or close proximity to a street from the front of their restaurant
  • the location of the patio must be on a roadway with a speed limit of 50km or less
  • businesses that meet all the application requirements

Application requirements

  • you must meet all the conditions under general requirements
  • you must have written approval from 75% of nearby businesses in the proposed area of the closure
    • if your business is located in the Uptown, the BIA will assist you with this, if located outside the Uptown, our transportation team will assist with this.
  • 9 metre setback from the corner of the intersection that has a stop/yield sign or pedestrian crosswalk, 15 metre setback from the corner of an that has a traffic signal, exceptions can be made for rare cases
  • patio does not interfere with any existing infrastructure
  • patio does not obstruct:
    • underground utility access
    • electrical transformer vaults
    • utility boxes
    • parking meters
    • loading zones
    • active transit stops
  • one emergency lane remains available on the road
  • patios must be identifiable by the use of barriers which may include fencing or planters
  • patios cannot block the flow of water through any drain, gutter, ditch or watercourse
  • permit holder manages that garbage and recycling can be accessed by Waste Management
  • no permanent structure or anchor shall be placed into the city’s roadway or sidewalk

How to apply

In order to apply for road closure, you will need to meet all the application requirements and have following supporting documents:

  1. Have a site drawing with a description of the proposed use
  2. City of Waterloo Certificate to Insurance
  3. valid business licence
  4. acknowledgement and indemnity
  5. provide written approval from surrounding businesses

Once you’ve met the requirements and have all the documentation together, you can apply online through our mypermits portal. You can do this by:

  1. Register or sign-in to the portal. Note – this application is not Internet Explorer compatible.
  2. On the top menu:
    1. Click “Licenses”
    2. Then click “Apply for New licenses
    3. Select the “Temporary Use Licence – SOLER”
    4. Begin the application process
  3. All supporting documents can be submitted through the online application.
  4. Any questions regarding the application process can be directed to bl@waterloo.ca

Apply for a road closure

Apply for a patio in Uptown Waterloo located on a sidewalk

If you are looking to apply for a sidewalk patio in Uptown Waterloo please complete our Uptown patio form below.

  1. You will need to meet the requirements laid out under general requirements and have a sketch prepared for your submission.
  2. The application and all supporting documents will be sent to christine.tettman@waterloo.ca
  3. Any questions regarding the application process can be directed to christine.tettman@waterloo.ca

For additional information, view our uptown patio sidewalk guidelines (PDF).

Apply for a sidewalk patio licence

Apply for other patios, pop-ups and signage

Apply for this permit if you are looking to:

  • have a patio in the uptown not located on the sidewalk
  • locate a patio anywhere else in Waterloo
  • looking to expand commercial offerings on:
    • parking lot, private or publicly owned space
    • open space on private property
    • municipal land
  • signage to promote business on city owned land

Application requirements:

  1. Meet all the conditions under general requirements
  2. Provide site drawings with the intended proposed use of the location
  3. Consent of the property owner
  4. Valid business licence
  5. City of Waterloo Certificate of Insurance form
  6. Acknowledgement and Indemnity form

How to apply:

Once you’ve met the requirements and have all the documentation together, you can apply online through our mypermits application. You can do this by:

  1. Register or sign-in to the mypermits application. Note – this application is not Internet Explorer compatible.
  2. On the top menu:
    1. Click “Licenses” then click “Apply for New licenses”
    2. Select the “Temporary Use Licence – SOLER”
    3. Begin the application process
  3. All supporting documents can be submitted through the online application.

Any questions regarding the application process can be directed to bl@waterloo.ca

Apply for this permit

About S.O.L.E.R.

The City of Waterloo’s S.O.L.E.R. initiative is intended to support our local economic recovery as businesses gradually and strategically reopen with a continued focus on the health and safety of customers and workers.

Waterloo's local economy is diverse and strong, but it is not immune to significant impacts caused by prolonged closures and restrictions enacted by the Province and the Regional Medical Officer of Health.

Closures and operating restrictions are necessary to protect the health, well-being and safety of Ontarians. Waterloo’s businesses and artisans are committed to doing their part to fight coronavirus, but many are struggling and seeking assistance from the city.

The City of Waterloo always rises to the challenge.