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Signs

A man in a uniform

The City of Waterloo's sign by-law (no. 2016-050) controls the type, size, location and maintenance of signs in the city. Guidelines for permanent and temporary signage as well guidelines for placing posters on public property are provided below. 

Election and political signs

Election and political signs are allowed on private property, with the permission of the property owner. Notices, posters, brochures and other election materials in support of any candidate may not be displayed on city worksites or on city property including sidewalks, boulevards, medians, parks, street lights or other sidewalk amenities. If posters or signs are found on city property, they will be promptly removed and the Office of the City Clerk notified.  

Posters on city streets

There are currently 18 poster cylinders attached to utility poles along King Street in uptown Waterloo. All sizes and types of posters can be attached to the cylinders, unless they contain offensive material. Residents can use glue or tape to attach a poster to the cylinder. Note: over time posters get covered by other posters and are periodically removed by city staff during regular street maintenance. Please don't place posters on utility poles that have no poster cylinder attached. Posters placed on utility poles without a poster cyclinder will be removed and discarded. 

Portable or temporary signs (i.e. sandwich boards)

A permit is required to display a portable or temporary sign on private property in the city. Portable signs are not permanently attached to something and can be transported. Apply for a portable sign permit in-person at City Hall at 100 Regina St. S. Portable sign permits must be purchased in-person and an application fee of $55 applies to all portable signs. We accept cash, cheque, debit or money order for in-person applications. Please note that fees increase effective Jan. 1, 2019.

Temporary signs (such as a sandwich board) placed on city property must follow these guidelines:

  • One sign per business and no larger than 60 cm by 90 cm
  • The sign must be directly in front of the store/business that is being advertised
  • The sign must be up against the building wall or at the property line (not in the middle of the sidewalk or at the curb of any street)

Note: third-party signs not related to the business at that location are prohibited and will be confiscated from centre medians, utility poles not equipped with a poster cyclinder, boulevards or any other kind of city property.  

Permanent signage

A permit is required to erect permanent signs on a building or yard on private property, unless otherwise regulated in the sign by-law. If you need to find the sign zone for an address, visit our sign zone map.

Permanent sign applications may be submitted online on our public portal, by mail, or in-person. In order to apply by mail, please send a completed permanent sign application form and a cheque or money order for $240 ( as of September 1st 2018) per sign payable to the City of Waterloo to:

City of Waterloo Municipal Enforcement Services
100 Regina St. S. 
PO Box 337, Station Waterloo 
Waterloo, ON  N2J 4A8

We accept cash, cheque, debit or money order for in-person applications. Please note that fees increase effective Jan. 1, 2019.

For help with the application process, please refer to our guide for permanent sign permit applications.If you require an accessible version, please contact Municipal Enforcement Services.

Permit applications are reviewed to ensure they comply with our sign and zoning by-laws. Permanent signs also must comply with the Ontario Building Code.

Our sign variance committee reviews applications that require an amendment to the sign by-law.

Reporting an issue

The sign by-law is enforced through voluntary compliance, complaints and preemptive site inspections. Erecting a sign without first obtaining a sign permit could result in it being removed at the owner's expense as well as a maximum fine of $50,000 for a person and $100,000 for a corporation.

If you believe someone is violating the sign by-law and would like to file a complaint, please contact us online or by calling 519-747-8785.

You may need a permit to erect a sign on your property, depending on the type of sign:

  • permanent - a permit is required to erect permanent signs on a building or yard on private property, unless otherwise regulated in the sign by-law.
  • portable - a permit is required to display a portable sign on private property in the city. Portable signs are not permanently attached to something and can be transported.

If you need to find the sign zone for an address, visit our sign zone map.