Volume 1: Introduction

This volume provides information, background and history of the manual's organization and development.

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On this page

  1. Purpose
  2. Volume structure
  3. Acknowledgements
  4. Disclaimers
  5. Updates
  6. General
  7. Climate adaptation equity
  8. Integrated Planning and Public Works Department
  9. Applicable legislation
  10. Approval from outside agencies
  11. Applicable by-laws
  12. Additional background information and guidelines
  13. Requirements for design professionals
  14. Glossary

This document may be updated on an annual basis or at the discretion of the Director of Engineering Services.

1.0 Purpose

The City of Waterloo Comprehensive Engineering and Landscape Manual (CELM) has been prepared as a guidance document to assist Developers, Consultants, and the general public through the City of Waterloo’s infrastructure and development processes.

The CELM was developed to reflect current Site Plan, Subdivision and Capital Project applications and development processes. This document includes design criteria specific to the City of Waterloo.

The intention of this manual is to provide general guidance for the efficient approval and completion of the servicing, grading, transportation, and/or landscaping of lands within the City of Waterloo. Every engineering project is unique and will be reviewed on its own merits. The City reserves the right to apply discretion in the interpretation of these guidelines and requires the use of other applicable guidelines and good engineering judgment when reviewing each project. The standards in this manual are considered to be minimum requirements by the City and do not relieve the designer from providing adequate and safe design. Current legislation shall be followed at all times.

This document is an official Integrated Planning and Public Works Policy document and has been approved by City Council. The CELM is to be read in conjunction with the City of Waterloo Urban Design Manual and applicable City by-laws and policies.

For most projects, the City of Waterloo has adopted the “Ontario Provincial Standard Drawings and Specifications (OPSS, OPSD)” and “Region of Waterloo and Area Municipalities Design Guidelines (DGSSMS)” except where amended as indicated in this Manual. For specialty projects (e.g., Landscape) the City may choose to utilize the Canadian Construction Documents Committee (CCDC) contracts.

2.0 Volume structure

This manual has been split into multiple volumes as follows:

a) Volume 1: Introduction

b) Volume 2: Process

c) Volume 3: Drawing and Report Requirements

d) Volume 4: Transportation

e) Volume 5: Underground Servicing, Grading, and Utilities

f) Volume 6: Stormwater Management

g) Volume 7: Landscape Architecture

h) Standard Drawings

3.0 Acknowledgements

This manual builds on the original Development Engineering Manual, first developed by Phil Quickfall, and was last published in 2013. It incorporates the Landscape Design Process and Requirements Manual for New Subdivision Development, first developed by Barb Magee Turner, last published in 2008.

Engineering Services staff wishes to thank all City Staff who participated in the writing, reviewing and finalizing of this major refresh and update. We would also like to thank the members of the Waterloo Region Home Builders Association, Conestoga Heavy Construction Association, the local Association of Consulting Engineering Companies Ontario chapter, as well as the local engineering and landscape architectural consultants and contractors for their comment and input into the preparation and update of this document.

4.0 Disclaimer

The content of this manual is being supplied by the City of Waterloo for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for independent professional advice. While every effort is made to ensure the accuracy of the information in this manual, the City of Waterloo does not warrant same. The City of Waterloo does not assume any liability for the reader’s application, misapplication, or misinterpretation of any information contained in this manual, nor does it assume any liability whatsoever to any person, corporation or organization for damages, injuries or costs resulting from the use of the information supplied.

The City of Waterloo reserves the right to amend, alter or accept revisions to this manual at any time, without notice.

5.0 Updates

Changes and revisions will be made to these standards from time to time and it is the responsibility of the designer to obtain and make use of the latest version available at the time of engineering design. It is the user’s responsibility to check the City of Waterloo’s website for the current revision of this manual. Manual holders should immediately discard superseded and obsolete standards.

Each Volume may be updated independent of one another. Records of updates will be tracked within this section (Table V1-1).

First Anticipated Update: January 2024

Table V1-1: update change log
3 4.10 Construction detour plan Revised to include all path of travel users
3 5.0 Reports Revised to align with the City of Waterloo's published terms of reference for Development Applications
7 3.3 Planting design guidelines and requirements Removal of 'Alternate Process' subsection

6.0 General

It is the responsibility of the designer to obtain and make use of the latest version of documents available at the time of design.

Should any referenced by-law, regulation, design standard, etc., be updated or amended prior to the project reaching building permit or issued for tender stage, the design shall be updated accordingly to meet the requirements of the new, updated or amended document.

A glossary of key terms used in this manual may be found in Appendix V1-A.

7.0 Climate adaptation equity

Climate change is a global phenomenon that affects all communities, but its impacts are not felt equally. There is growing evidence that low-income neighbourhoods, which often have limited resources and face systemic inequalities, are disproportionately affected by the impacts of climate change such as flooding, heatwaves, and extreme weather events. The City of Waterloo recognizes this reality and is committed to promoting climate adaptation equity through its development guidelines and requirements.

To ensure that all neighbourhoods, including those with low socioeconomic status, are resilient to the impacts of climate change, the City of Waterloo's development guidelines prioritize the following:

  1. Access to green spaces and urban forests:
    Green spaces and urban forests play a crucial role in mitigating the impacts of climate change by reducing the urban heat island effect, improving air quality, and reducing stormwater runoff. The City of Waterloo requires that all new developments provide access to green spaces and urban forests, particularly in neighbourhoods with low-income households.
  2. Designing for climate resilience:
    The City of Waterloo's guidelines require that all new developments are designed to withstand the impacts of climate change, such as flooding and extreme heat. This includes requiring developers to use sustainable design strategies, such as low impact developments where applicable and strategic tree planting locations to reduce stormwater runoff and mitigate the urban heat island effect.
  3. Ensuring equitable access to infrastructure:
    The City of Waterloo's guidelines require that all new developments provide equitable access to infrastructure, such as stormwater management systems and flood protection measures, access to trails. This is particularly important in neighbourhoods with low-income households, which are often more vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.
  4. Community engagement:
    The City of Waterloo recognizes that engaging communities in the planning process is essential for promoting climate adaptation equity. The City encourages developers to engage with local communities, particularly those with low socioeconomic status, to ensure that their needs and concerns are addressed in the development process.

The City of Waterloo is committed to promoting climate adaptation equity in all neighbourhoods, including those with low socioeconomic status. The City's development guidelines prioritize access to green spaces, designing for climate resilience, ensuring equitable access to infrastructure, and engaging local communities in the planning process. These measures will help ensure that all neighbourhoods are resilient to the impacts of climate change, and that no community is left behind.

8.0 Integrated Planning and Public Works department

Municipal approvals and permits for development in Waterloo are managed by the city’s Integrated Planning and Public Works (IPPW) department. This department is structured into specific administrative divisions, five of which manage applicable requirements for land development.

Table V1-2 (below) lists each division and its corresponding function with respect to land development.

Table V1-2 City of Waterloo IPPW department
DivisionKey roles and service deliverable
Building Standards
  • Inspections
  • Plans examination
  • Building Permits
  • Demolition Permits
Engineering Services
  • Site Plan Engineering and Landscape Review
  • Subdivision Engineering and Landscape Review
  • Site Alteration Permits (Grading, Filling, Drainage)
  • Field Inspection Services
  • Capital Projects
  • Special Servicing Agreements
Transportation Services
  • Transportation Operations
  • Active and Autonomous Transportation
  • Transportation Engineering
City Utilities
  • Municipal System Alteration Approvals
  • Water Operations and Maintenance
  • Wastewater Operations and Maintenance
  • Stormwater Operations and Construction
  • City Utilities Program Management
Planning Approvals
  • Official Plan Policy
  • Heritage Planning
  • Station Area Planning
  • Environmental Planning
  • Growth Management
  • Urban Design
  • Land Use Zoning
  • Demolition Control
  • Site Plan
  • Consent applications
  • Plan of Subdivision
  • Plan of Condominium
  • Severances, part lot control
  • Minor Variance (Committee of Adjustment)

9.0 Applicable legislation

The Divisions in the IPPW Department conduct work under the authority or direction of various pieces of legislation, namely:
  1. Planning Act
  2. Environmental Protection Act
  3. Fisheries Act
  4. Professional Engineers Act
  5. Municipal Drainage Act
  6. Safe Drinking Water Act
  7. Ontario Water Resources Act
  8. Ontario Clean Water Act
  9. Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005, S.O. 2005, c. 11
  10. Municipal Act
  11. Building Code Act
  12. Applicable By-laws of the City of Waterloo and the Regional Municipality of Waterloo

10.0 Approval from outside agencies

Depending on the location and nature of the project, a variety of other agencies may place conditions on the approval of an application. The following list is intended to identify external agencies that may be interested or affected parties for the project, and is not intended to be a full and comprehensive list of all such agencies:

  1. Area municipalities
  2. Canada Post
  3. Electrical Safety Authority
  4. Technical Standards and Safety Authority
  5. First Nations
  6. Grand River Conservation Authority
  7. Grand River Transit
  8. Grand River Accessibility Advisory Committee (GRAAC)
  9. Hydro One
  10. ION Light Rail Grand River Transit
  11. Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP)
  12. Ministry of Transportation
  13. Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF)
  14. Municipal Heritage Committee
  15. Region of Waterloo
  16. Telecommunications providers
  17. Utility providers
  18. Reconciliation, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion City Staff
  19. Enova Power Corp. (Enova, formerly: Waterloo North Hydro)
  20. Waterloo Advisory Committee on Active Transportation (WACAT)

11.0 Applicable bylaws

In addition to applicable provincial statutes related to development, various bylaws govern the development process in Waterloo. The following list is intended to identify potential affecting bylaws and is not intended to be a full and comprehensive list of all possible applicable bylaws:

  1. Bylaw 2003-039 Water Feature Bylaw and amendment (2004-055)
  2. Bylaw 2010-066 Site Alteration
  3. Bylaw 2010-073 Noise
  4. Bylaw 2013-014 Demolition Control
  5. Bylaw 2013-017 Municipal Fence
  6. Bylaw 2013-115 Water Supply
  7. Bylaw 2013-124 Site Plan Control
  8. Bylaw 2014-054 Highways and boulevards bylaw
  9. Bylaw 2014-077 Regulation for Municipal Parks and Process for Authorizing Particular Uses within Parks
  10. Bylaw 2014-078 Protection of Trees on City Property
  11. Bylaw 2015-044 Parkland Dedication
  12. Bylaw 2016-050 Signs
  13. Bylaws 2018-037 and 2018-038 Traffic and Parking
  14. Bylaw 2018-050 Zoning
  15. Bylaw 2020-058 Sanitary and Stormwater Service
  16. Bylaw 2022-042 Fees and Charges
  17. Region of Waterloo Bylaw 07-029 Work Permit, if applicable
  18. Region of Waterloo Bylaw 08-026 Woodland Conservation
  19. Region of Waterloo Bylaw 21-036 Sewer Use
  20. Region of Waterloo Bylaw 17-007 Waste Management

Relevant bylaws are available online at the City of Waterloo website. It is the applicant’s (often the developer representative’s) responsibility to ensure that the most recent version of the bylaw is used.

12.0 Additional background information and guidelines

The following list references documents that may be relevant to the design process. Each subsequent Volume may include more detailed lists of reference documents.

  1. Accessible Playgrounds in Canada (CAN/CSA-Z614 Annex H)
  2. Transportation Association of Canada (TAC) Standards
  1. Low Impact Development Stormwater Management Planning and Design Guide (Credit Valley Conservation Authority and Toronto and Region Conservation Authority, 2010)
  2. MECP Design Guidelines for Drinking Water Systems
  3. MECP Design Guidelines for Sewage Works
  4. MECP Stormwater Management Planning and Design Manual
  5. MECP Design Criteria for Drinking Water Systems (PIBS 6881e)
  6. MECP Design Criteria for Sanitary Sewers, Storm Sewers and Forcemains for Alterations Authorized Under Environmental Compliance Approval
  7. MNRF documents
  8. Ontario Building Code
  9. Ontario Provincial Standards Specifications
  10. Ontario Traffic Manual (OTM), including Book 15 and Book 18
  11. Ontario Regulation 191-11: Integrated Accessibility Standards
  1. Region of Waterloo Bylaws
  2. Region of Waterloo Design Guidelines and Supplemental Specifications for Municipal Services (DGSSMS)
  3. Region of Waterloo Transportation Corridor Design Guidelines for Regional roads
  4. Regional Road Access Policy
  5. Transportation Impact Study Guidelines
  6. Noise Implementation Guideline
  7. Regional Official Plan with all Appendices
  8. Regional Road Widening Policies and Procedures
City of Waterloo
  1. Official Plan
  2. Sanitary Sewer Master Plan
  3. Stormwater Master Plan
  4. Transportation Master Plan
  5. Sidewalk Policy (PW-002)
  6. Parkland Strategy
  7. Guidelines for Privately Owned Publically Accessible Spaces (POPS)
  8. Urban Design Manual
  9. Urban Forest Policy
  10. Water Distribution Master Plan
  11. City Storm Sewer Use Bylaw (coming soon)
  1. Laurel Creek Watershed Study
  2. Northdale Land Use and Community Improvement Plan Study – Urban Design and Built Form Guidelines
  3. Site zoning restrictions concerning landscape elements
  4. Stormwater Management in Uptown Waterloo Report P&PW/EG 4201
  5. Laurel Greenway Master Plan
  6. West Side Employment Lands Urban Design Guidelines

Other applicable Design Guidelines for specific areas (e.g., the North Node, the South Node, David Johnston Research and Technology Park, University of Waterloo Northwest Campus Design Guidelines, etc.) It is the Developer Representative’s responsibility to ensure that the most recent version of the above background information and guidelines are used.

13.0 Requirements for design professionals

All drawings and reports must be signed and sealed by the professional responsible for the work. The professional must be working under a Certificate of Authorization allowing them to provide services to the public. The professional must be qualified and competent to design the proposed work.
Table V1-3 identifies the license requirements for professionals.

Table V1-3 requirements for professionals
Engineer Professional Engineers Ontario (PEO)
Landscape Architect Ontario Association of Landscape Architects (OALA)
Arborist International Society of Arboriculture (ISA)
Forester Ontario Professional Foresters Association (OPFA)
Architect Ontario Association of Architects (OAA)
Geoscientist Association of Professional Geoscientists (APGO)
Legal Surveyor

Association of Ontario Land Surveyors (AOLS)

14.0 Glossary

Glossary of key terms
 AC Asphalt Cement
Acceptance In the context of technical plans, drawings, and reports means the City’s acknowledgement that the submitted information sufficiently satisfies City requirements and standards to allow for work to be undertaken in accordance with the submitted design. Acceptance does not refer to the receipt of the items in question. Acceptance, accept, and accepted in the context of technical submissions are understood to have a corresponding meaning.
Assumed Transfer of ownership of constructed works to the City from the developer. Assumption of works will not be approved until the expiry of the applicable maintenance period, and confirmation by City staff that all deficiencies have been rectified, all works have been constructed in accordance with the approved design and they are functioning appropriately. 
CB  Catchbasin 
CBO  Chief Building Official  
CCTV  Closed Circuit Television  
CELM  Comprehensive Engineering and Landscape Manual 
Chief Municipal Engineer   Director of Engineering Services
CLI-ECA  Consolidated Linear Infrastructure Environmental Compliance Approval  
Commissioner Commissioner of Integrated Planning and Public Works  
Consultant  A consulting engineering company with a Certificate of Authorization from PEO or a Professional Engineer working for such a company. Generally hired by the City through a Request for Proposal procurement process.
Contractor/ Private Contractor  A person or company that undertakes a contract to complete site, subdivision, or capital works projects.
CSA  Canadian Standards Association 
DBH  Diameter at Breast Height (1.37m above ground level) 
DCL  Development Compliance Letter
DE  Development Engineering 
Developer  Land Developer or legal agent of the Developer responsible for development
DGSSMS Region of Waterloo Design Guidelines and Supplemental Specifications for Municipal Services
Director Director of Engineering Services 
DWWP  Drinking Water Works Permit 
E&S  Erosion and Sedimentation 
ECA  Environmental Compliance Approval issued by the MECP 
ECPM  Engineering and Construction Project Manager 
Engineer  A consultant holding a valid Certificate of Authorization from Professional Engineers Ontario allowing the firm or individual to provide engineering services to the public in accordance with the Professional Engineers Act. 
Enova Enova Power Corp. (Formerly Waterloo North Hydro and other electricity utility providers) 
EPA  Environmental Protection Act 
ESA  Environmentally Sensitive Area 
Field Inspector  An Engineering representative must be on site during the survey to verify all infrastructure located in the municipal right of way including pipe material, size, invert and location 
GRCA  Grand River Conservation Authority 
IPPW  Integrated Planning and Public Works 
LC  Letter of Credit 
LRT  Light Rapid Transit system owned by the RMOW 
Manual  Collection of Volumes which make up the Comprehensive Design Guidelines and Requirements 
MDWL  Municipal Drinking Water License 
MECP QP  P.Eng. or P.Geo. qualified professional registered with the MECP 
MECP  Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks 
MH  Maintenance Hole 
MJ  Mechanical Joint 
MOL  Ministry Of Labour 
MTO  Ministry of Transportation 
O. Reg.   Ontario Regulation  
OBC  Ontario Building Code 
OLS  Ontario Land Surveyor 
OPS  Ontario Provincial Standard 
OPSD  Ontario Provincial Standard Drawing 
OPSS  Ontario Provincial Standard Specification 
Owner  Legal Land Owner – May also be the Developer 
Owner’s Representative A party (either staff or external party) with authority to represent the Legal Land Owner, Developer or the City 
OWRA Ontario Water Resources Act  
Project Area The physical area encompassing the project works 
PTTW  Permit To Take Water 
RMOW  Regional Municipality of Waterloo 
ROW  Right Of Way 
RSC  Record of Site Condition 
S.I.  International System of Units 
SPA  Registered Site Plan Agreement 
SPRC  Site Plan Review Committee 
SWM  Stormwater Management 
TMP  City of Waterloo Transportation Master Plan 
TW  Tracer Wire 
UDM  Urban Design Manual 
WRHBA  Waterloo Region Home Builders’ Association 
WSIB  Workplace Safety and Insurance Board 


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