Local economic recovery

Find out how to expand your business offerings during the gradual reopening of Phase 2 through temporary patios, patio expansions, pop-ups for retailers and artisans on private lands and/or municipal lands, or temporarily place a sign on municipal lands to promote and market your business.

On this page

  1. Support Our Local Economic Recovery
  2. How we are helping
  3. Outdoor heaters
  4. Before you apply
  5. Apply for a sidewalk patio in the Uptown
  6. Apply for all other licence types
  7. About SOLER

Support Our Local Economic Recovery

The City of Waterloo’s SOLER Initiative (Support Our Local Economic Recovery) 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.

How we are helping

The SOLER initiative focuses on temporary land use planning opportunities to support local businesses. What that means is applications will be open for:

  1. The temporary use of off-street parking areas for commercial purposes, subject to licencing.
  2. The temporary use of certain on-site open space areas for commercial purposes, subject to licencing.
  3. The temporary use of municipal lands for commercial purposes, subject to licencing.
  4. The use of municipal lands for temporary signage to market and promote local businesses and artisans, subject to permitting.

Outdoor heaters

The below information and requirements are to assist your business in the use of outdoor heaters. 

Propane heaters, including the fuel source and storage, are regulated by the Technical Standards and Safety Authority (TSSA). TSSA oversees the following:

  • transmission, distribution, and transportation
  • storage and dispensing
  • burning
Installing outdoor heaters

Before installing heaters or storing propane cylinders at your business, you must:

  1. Contact TSSA to understand your responsibilities as it concerns to propane safety regulations.
  2. It is the sole responsibility of each business to ensure they are in compliance with any standards or procedures stipulate by the TSSA.
  3. Propane heaters are used and maintained in accordance with manufacturer’s specifications and recommendations

The TSSA can be contacted at 1-877-682-8772 or by email at: customerservices@tssa.org

If you are using a propane heater at your business, the city’s Fire Prevention Office may be visiting your location to ensure that no obvious fire safety issues exist. Waterloo Fire Rescue prohibits the following: 

  • use of propane heaters in an enclosed space that presents a fire or carbon monoxide hazard
  • use of propane heaters in a manner not permitted by the manufacturer’s specifications and/or recommendations

If you are using a outdoor heater that is situated on any portion of municipal property, please advise the city’s Municipal Enforcement Services office as consent is required from the City and/or Region.

For any other types of fuel sources other than propane for outdoor heaters, contact the city’s Fire Prevention Office at 519-884-2121 for more information. Waterloo Fire Rescue prohibits open burning.

Prior to putting up of any tents, please consult with the Building Standards Division at building@waterloo.ca or 519-747-8712 to determine if a building permit is required.

Before you apply

Please ensure you have met our requirements laid out below.

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.

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 sidewalk patio in Uptown Waterloo

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 all other licence types

For all other temporary space uses, including patios not located in the Uptown core and other commercial uses onto city or private lands, you can apply for a licence online.

  1. Register or sign in to apply for a licence online. Note - this application is not Internet Explorer compatible.
  2. All supporting documents can be submitted through the online application
  3. Any questions regarding the application process can be directed to bl@waterloo.ca

Apply for all other space types


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.