Bylaws and enforcement

Find out how to make a bylaw complaint. You can also read the full text of bylaws in the directory.

On this page

  1. Make a COVID-19 complaint
  2. Make a noise complaint
  3. Make a parking complaint
  4. Make a open air fire complaint
  5. Make other complaints
  6. Bylaw directory

Make a COVID-19 complaint

For enforcement of COVID-19 regulations call:

Make a noise complaint

To request enforcement, call the non-emergency number of the Waterloo Regional Police Services:

If the noise is taking place on a university campus, call:

Make a parking complaint

To make a parking complaint call:

Make an open air fire complaint

To report an open fire, call:

Make other complaints

Our online portal allows users to make complaints about a variety of bylaw concerns, including:

  • snow and ice on sidewalks
  • graffiti on private property
  • property standards and lot maintenance issues, such as long grass
  • proper licensing for a rental unit

Make an online complaint

Registration is required to make a complaint, but you will be able to track your request. By using our online portal the complaint is directed to an officer as quickly as possible.

You can also call 519-747-8785 or email to make a complaint. This phone line and email are only monitored Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Bylaw directory

Below are the most frequently requested city bylaws. 

If you're looking for a different bylaw, or need one in an alternate format, contact us at 519-747-8785, TTY (for deaf) 1-866-786-3941 or

The Region of Waterloo's bylaws are also in force in the City of Waterloo.

Go to bylaw section

  1. City administration
  2. Building and property standards
  3. Licensing   
  4. Parking and driving 
  5. Safety 
  6. Zoning

City administration


  • regulates how the city procures goods and service
  • ensures consistency and fairness amongst bidders during the procurement process
  • visit our bids and tenders page for additional purchasing services

Download full bylaw (PDF)

Fees and charges

  • 2023 rates (approved June 20, 2022)
  • outlines all common fees and charges for city services

Download full bylaw (PDF)

Building and property standards

Adequate heat

  • regulates suitable temperature in rental units

  • minimum temperature is 21C

  • owners of a rental unit heated at the expense of the owner must provide minimum heat

  • does not allow space heaters as a main heating source

  • non-compliance can result in requiring the owner to take measures to ensure adequate heat

  • if voluntary compliance is not gained an officer may conduct work to at owner’s expense

  • charges may also be laid

Download full bylaw (PDF)

Backflow prevention

  • regulates the supply of water to ensure public water is not compromised due to backflow resulting from cross connections

  • outlines backflow permits and installations of devices by CSA Standard
  • every owner of a property in Waterloo described in Section 3.1 must ensure they have a backflow prevention device
  • required surveys and tests upon installation of device

Download full bylaw (PDF)


  • lists different classes of permits, but not limited to:
    • construction, alteration or structural repair
    • change of use
    • transfer of permit
    • demolition
    • exterior heritage work
  • outlines the application process for obtaining a permit and revisions to permits
  • required drawings and specifications to accompany permit applications
  • outlines fees for permits applications, including calculating of floor area and refunds
  • notice requirements for inspections
  • code of conduct for building officials and enforcement guidelines

Download full bylaw (PDF)

Highways and boulevards

  • regulates the construction, maintenance and protection of boulevards within the city

  • boulevard the portion of a road under the jurisdiction of the municipality between the travelled road and the street line (not including 'back lot' properties)

Download full bylaw (PDF)

City tree protection

  • protects city trees against damage from private activities such as pruning or gardening
  • prevents residents from planting trees on city property without authorization
  • visit our trees page for additional forestry services 

Download full bylaw (PDF)


  • regulates fences based on its property or yard type

  • requires fences be built in a safe and consistent manner

  • non-compliance can result in an officer issuing an order or laying charges

  • visit our fence and enclosure page for additional fence services

Download full bylaw (PDF)


  • prohibits unwanted graffiti on a property

  • graffiti is considered a public nuisance

  • outlines powers of inspection and compliance options

Download full bylaw (PDF)

Property standards 

  • defines standards for maintaining a property in the City of Waterloo

  • property owners must maintain the property and dwellings in a state of good repair

  • includes stair railings, plumbing, electrical, fences, foundations, walls, windows and roofs

  • non-compliance can result in issuing an order

  • if the owner does not comply we may conduct work to gain compliance at the owner’s expense

  • you can appeal an order of non-compliance within 14 days

  • appeals can be submitted for a fee of $170.00

Download full bylaw (PDF) 

Lot maintenance

  • regulates the basic standards for maintenance and aesthetics of exterior of a property in the city

  • sets out grass cutting, garbage, wood storage, weed control and material disposal standards

  • requires dead, decayed or damaged trees and branches be removed

  • non-compliance can result in an order of compliance on site 

  • if compliance is not obtained in the issued timeframe, an officer may conduct the work to correct the violations at the owner’s expense and charges may be laid

Download full bylaw (PDF)

Pool enclosures

  • regulates minimum requirements for a safety enclosure around a swimming pool

  • requires that any pool deeper than two feet have a safety enclosure

  • requires a permit prior to installation or work being done

  • sets minimums for height, distance from water’s edge and locking gate requirements

  • requires temporary fencing during construction if an existing enclosure is not already in place

  • a pool without an enclosure is a life safety concern and requires immediate action

  • non-compliance may result with an officer issuing an order and conducting work immediately

  • charges may also be laid

  • visit our pool enclosures page to apply for a permit

Download full bylaw (PDF)


  • regulates where and what type of signs can be placed in public areas
  • sets out the process and requirements for a sign permit
  • outlines measures to remove signs for non-compliance
  • visit our signage page to apply for a sign permit or variance

Download full bylaw (PDF)

Snow removal

  • property owners are responsible for removing snow and ice from private sidewalks within 24 hours of accumulation
  • snow and ice cannot be placed on a road or highway
  • outlines process for compliance and enforcement
  • visit out snow removal page to report an unsafe private sidewalk

Download full bylaw (PDF)

Sanitary and stormwater services Bylaw
  • outlines how the Municipal Act relates to the bylaw by allowing:
    • city staff can enter a land where it supplies a sanitary or stormwater to perform work
    • may shut off the supply of public water if fees and charges are overdue by the owners or occupants, providing reasonable notice
  • no connection to the city's system is permitted without the consent of the city
  • city can require payment for extending a sanitary or stormwater service to the owner
  • ownership and maintenance with respect to service pipes and stormwater management systems is the responsibility of the owner
  • no substances can be discharged to the city's system, unless in accordance with the Region of Waterloo's sewer use bylaw

Download full bylaw (PDF)

Water use

  • outlines how the Municipal Act relates to the bylaw by allowing:
    • city staff to enter a land where it supplies public water to perform work
    • may shut off the supply of public water if fees and charges are overdue by the owners or occupants, providing reasonable notice
    • City of Waterloo is not responsible for damages as a result of an emergency breakdown
  • all pipes, valves, fitting and equipment between the watermain and street line, and all meters are the property of the city
  • owner may be held liable for damages to city property caused by the owner as a result of carelessness
  • water is supplied by the Region of Waterloo and the city cannot guarantee the supply, quality or pressure of the water to consumers

Download full bylaw (PDF)


Business licence

  • businesses operating in Waterloo require a licence
  • all must comply with applicable fire and zoning regulations, and provide proof of insurance. 
  • licences are non-transferable if a business is sold or moves to a new location
  • businesses that require multiple licences must apply for each separately
  • visit our business licence page to apply for a licence

Download full bylaw (PDF)

Lottery sales

  • the city works with the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) to regulate lottery licenses

  • the city administers license and enforces the Gaming Control Act

  • ensures licensees meet requirements under the Criminal Code of Canada and compliance with the terms and conditions of their licenses

  • non-compliance is when an applicant or licensee fails to submit accurate and up-to-date information in their financial reports or provides false information, contrary to the Registrar’s requirements

  • the AGCO may become involved and criminal charges may be laid

Download full bylaw (PDF)

Residential rental licence

  • regulates the business of low rise rental housing in the city

  • governs the number of bedrooms in a rental property

  • guarantees property owners have insurance, functioning HVAC, electrical safety check, fire inspections and zoning compliance

  • yearly renewal required

  • non-compliance can result in a notice from an officer

  • non-compliance following the the notice can result in charges and fines 

  • license may be revoked, denied or have conditions placed on it at any time

  • you can appeal a condition or revoked/denied license to the clerks department

  • visit our residential rental licence page to apply for a licence

Download full bylaw (PDF)

Parking and driving


  • regulates and provides provisions and exemptions controlling the idling of vehicles in the city

  • enforcement or non-compliance can result in an officer issuing a work order to discontinue the activity or issue a Provincial Offences Notice wherein charges are laid and fines are imposed

Download full bylaw (PDF)

Fire route

  • grants authority to the city to declare fire routes and ensure compliance through enforcement
  • establishes where fire routes can prohibit parking or stopping, and who can put up signs
  • outlines remedial actions and potential charges and fines for non-compliance

Download full bylaw (PDF)

Parking in yards

  • prohibits parking on organic matter (lawns or otherwise) in front and back yards
  • non-compliance can result in an order to discontinue the activity or a Provincial Offences Notice where charges are laid and fines imposed

Download full bylaw (PDF)

Parking on private property

  • regulates parking in private spaces such as businesses or commercial properties
  • outlines the delegation of authority to Private Enforcement Officers
  • non-compliance can result in fines or vehicle impounding

Download full bylaw (PDF)

Traffic and parking

  • regulates where you can park, stop and drive on roads in Waterloo
  • overnight parking on city streets and lots in prohibited from 2:30 to 6:00 a.m.

  • parking on residential yards or over the edge of a driveway is prohibited
  • vehicles cannot block a sidewalk or overhang curbs
  • visit our parking page to apply for an overnight parking permit

Download full bylaw (PDF)


Animal control

  • Regulates the keeping of animals on private property
  • Notes the conditions under which each type of animal must be kept
  • Outlines steps that can be taken to relieve animals in distress
  • Prohibits feeding wild animals in a "manner that creates a nuisance"
  • Prohibits the keeping of chickens unless registered prior to enactment of the bylaw

Download full bylaw (PDF)

Dangerous dog

  • defines who can designate a dog as dangerous and the reasons for doing so
  • defines what dogs breeds are restricted and how to get a license for one
  • outlines safety procedures for dogs that have been designated as dangerous
  • non-compliance can result in a dog being designated as prohibited
  • prohibited dogs must be surrendered to an animal shelter

Download the full bylaw (PDF)


Prohibits the discharge of firearms within the City of Waterloo.

Download the full bylaw (PDF)


  • Regulates the sales and use of fireworks, including but not limited to:

    • fireworks showers

    • fountains

    • golden train

    • lawn lights

    • pinwheels

    • roman candles

    • volcanoes

    • sparklers

  • these are low hazard fireworks and you need to be authorized to sell them
  • an individual can only use fireworks on private property from dusk to 11:00 p.m. during:
    • Victoria Day, Canada Day and one day immediately before and one day immediately after each of these holidays 
    • days that are the recognized duration of Lunar New Year (also known as Chinese New Year) and Diwali (also known as Deepavali) 
  • the Canadian National Fireworks Association has safety tips for individual fireworks use

Download the consolidation of the bylaw (PDF)


  • sets out minimum standards for noise and vibrations
  • provides the general limitations of sound levels and sources

  • outlines general prohibitions and exemptions

  • non-compliance can result in charges and fines

  • visit our noise page to make a noise complaint or apply for a bylaw exemption

Download full bylaw (PDF)

Open air burning

  • regulates the setting of open air fires

  • establishes times when open air fires may be set and any exemptions

  • provides for officers to inspect property to determine compliance

  • non-compliance can result in an officer issuing an order to discontinue the activity or a Provincial Offences Notice where charges are laid and fines imposed

Download full bylaw (PDF)

Public nuisance 


On September 23, 2019 city council passed an amendment to the public nuisance bylaw. The changes and new provisions are highlighted in the document below.

Download bylaw amendment (PDF)

Original bylaw
  • regulates public nuisances or situations that could cause them

  • sets out minimum standards in relation to:

    • foul odours in public places

    • excessive smoke, dust or airborne particulate matter in public places

    • spitting, vomiting, urinating or defecating in public places

    • dumping or littering in public places

    • blocking the passage of a pedestrian on a highway or on public property

  • non-compliance can result in an order to discontinue the activity or a Provincial Offences Notice where charges are laid and fines imposed

Download full bylaw (PDF)


Check our zoning bylaw page for the latest information on the new comprehensive zoning bylaw.