Nuisance bylaw

This bylaw is a consolidated digital version of the official legal document. It is not an exact reproduction and is for information purposes only.

For any questions related to this bylaw contact 519-747-8785, 1-866-785-3941 (TTY for deaf), or municipalenforcement@waterloo.ca


Bylaw number: 2011-125
Last passed by Council: November 7 2011
Last amended by Bylaw 2023-077: September 11 2023


A bylaw to prohibit or regulate public nuisances within the City of Waterloo

  1. Definitions 
  2. Prohibitions 
  3. Exemptions 
  4. Permits
  5. Inspection
  6. Order to discontinue activity 
  7. Work order 
  8. Remedial Action 
  9. Enforcement 
  10. Penalties 
  11. Fees and charges 
  12. Short title 
  13. Severability 
  14. Repeal 
  15. Coming into force

WHEREAS section 128(1) of the Municipal Act, 2001, S.O. 2001, c. 25, as amended, (the “Municipal Act, 2001”), provides that a local municipality may prohibit and regulate with respect to public nuisances, including matters that, in the opinion of Council, are or could become or cause public nuisances;

AND WHEREAS section 128(2) of the Municipal Act, 2001, provides that the opinion of
Council under section 128 of the Municipal Act, 2001, if arrived at in good faith, is not subject to review by any court;

AND WHEREAS it is the opinion of Council for The Corporation of the City of Waterloo (the “City”) that the act of spitting, vomiting, urinating or defecating in public places is or could become a public nuisance;

AND WHEREAS it is the opinion of Council for the City that the act of knocking over mailboxes, relay boxes, newspaper boxes or a garbage or recycling container located on a highway is or could become a public nuisance;

AND WHEREAS it is the opinion of Council for the City that the act of emitting objectionable odours in public places is or could become a public nuisance;

AND WHEREAS it is the opinion of Council for the City that the act of emitting excessive amounts of smoke, dust or airborne particulate matter in public places is or could become a public nuisance;

AND WHEREAS it is the opinion of Council for the City that the act of dumping on public property or littering in public places is or could become a public nuisance;

AND WHEREAS it is the opinion of Council for the City that the act of blocking, interfering, obstructing or otherwise impeding the passage of a pedestrian on a highway or on public property is or could become a public nuisance;

Now therefore, the Council of the Corporation of the City of Waterloo enacts as follows:


1.0 Definitions 

In this bylaw:

“Administrative Penalty Bylaw” means the Administrative Penalty Bylaw of the City, as amended from time to time, or any successor thereof;

“Bodily Emission” means to spit, vomit, urinate or defecate;

“City'' means The Corporation of the City of Waterloo;

“Council” means the Council of the City;

“Designated Time” means the period from 12:00 a.m. to 11:59 p.m. 2 days before and 2 days after March 17 in each calendar year, as well as any date announced as Homecoming as defined herein, from 12:00 a.m. to 11:59 p.m. 2 days before and 2 days after the dates of Homecoming, and any other date(s) and time(s) that the Director of Bylaw Enforcement or their designate may request to be designated by Council through resolution from time to time;

“Designated Provision” means any section of this bylaw designated in accordance with section 10.0;

“Director of Bylaw Enforcement” means the Director of Bylaw Enforcement, also known as the Director of Municipal Enforcement or equivalent for the City or their designate;

“Dumping” includes throwing, scattering, dropping, placing or otherwise depositing garbage, rubbish, refuse, yard waste, leaves, debris, or other substance or material, except for in a garbage or recycling container intended for such use or placed in an area for waste collection, and “Dump” shall have a corresponding meaning;

“Highway” includes a common and public highway, street, avenue, parkway, driveway, square, place, bridge, viaduct or trestle, any part of which is intended for or used by the general public for the passage of vehicles or persons, and includes the area between the lateral property lines thereof, including sidewalk and boulevards;

“Homecoming” means an event that symbolizes the return and reunion of alumni, former students, faculty, and staff to their alma matar, on dates as deemed annually by the University of Waterloo and Wilfrid Laurier University respectively;

“Littering” includes throwing, scattering, dropping, placing and/or otherwise depositing garbage, rubbish, refuse, debris and/or other substance or material, except for in a garbage or recycling container intended for such use and, “Litter” shall have a corresponding meaning;

“Municipal Act, 2001” means the Municipal Act, 2001, S.O. 2001, c. 25, as amended;

“Municipal Law Enforcement Officer” means a person appointed by the City as a Municipal Law Enforcement Officer pursuant to s. 15 of the Police Services Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. P. 15, as amended;

“Nuisance Noise” means sound or vibration that is of such volume, level or nature that is likely to disturb the inhabitants of the City, and which:

  • (a) is generated on any Highway or Public Property; or,
  • (b) is generated on private property, and is audible at a point of reception on the opposite side of any Highway or Public Property from the property on which the sound is generated;
  • (c) but does not include an event or occurrence where an exemption has been approved under the Noise Bylaw process;

 “Nuisance Party” means a gathering on a Premises, Public Place and/or Public Property which, by reason of the conduct of the persons in attendance, results in any one or more of the following activities occurring:

  • a) public disorderly conduct
  • b) public intoxication or public drunkenness
  • c) the unlawful sale, furnishing, or distribution of alcoholic beverages or controlled substances;
  • d) the deposit of refuse on public or private property;
  • e) damage to or destruction of public or private property;
  • f) pedestrian traffic, vehicular traffic, or illegal parking the obstructs the free flow of traffic or could interfere with the ability to provide emergency services;
  • g) unreasonable noise or Nuisance Noise, including loud music shouting that is of such a volume or nature as likely to disturb the inhabitants of the City;
  • h) unlawful open burning or fireworks;
  • i)  use of smoke grenade or similar device;
  • j) public disturbances, including public brawls or public fights;
  • k) outdoor public urination or defecation or other bodily emissions
  • l) use of entry upon a Roof not intended for such occupancy;

“Person” means an individual, firm, corporation, partnership, association or organization, including a charitable organization;

“Permit” means a permit issued by the Director of Bylaw Enforcement for an exemption to section 2 (b), (e) or (f) of this bylaw;

 “Police Officer” means an officer of the Waterloo Regional Police Service or other police service in the province of Ontario;

“Premises” means any private place in the City of Waterloo, including but not limited to parking lots, yards appurtenant to a building or dwelling or vacant lands;

“Public Property” means property owned by the City;

“Public Place” includes a Highway and any place to which the public has access as of right or by invitation, express or implied, which may include Public Property, and private property that is exposed to public view, but does not include a washroom facility;

“Public Utility” means a company that provides water, sewer, electricity or telephone services to the public.

“Roof” means the uppermost part of a building enclosure, including the supporting structure and materials that provides protection against weather and external elements. A roof may be sloped or flat and can consist of various components, materials, and finishes;

“Roof Maintenance” means the regular upkeep and care of a roof, including eaves troughs, rainwater pipes, flashings, cladding on the exterior walls, chimneys, balconies, porches, canopies, marquees, awnings, screens, grilles, stairways, fire escapes, pipes, ducts, air conditioners and all other similar equipment, attachments, extensions and their supporting members; and,

“Special Constable” means a Special Constable of Wilfrid Laurier University or the University of Waterloo.


2.0 Prohibitions 

(a) No person shall have or cause a Bodily Emission in a Public Place. 

(b) No person shall dump on Public Property, except where permitted to do so by the City. 

(c) No person shall Litter in a Public Place. 

(d) No person shall knock over, or attempt to knock over, a Canada Post mailbox, Canada Post relay box, newspaper box or garbage or recycling container, lawfully located on a Highway. 

(e) No person shall emit, or cause to be emitted; an objectionable odour in a Public. Place, except where permitted to do so by the City.

(f) No person shall emit, or cause to be emitted, an excessive amount of smoke, dust or airborne particulate matter in a Public Place, except where permitted to do so by the City. 

(g) No person shall block, interfere, obstruct or otherwise impede the passage of any pedestrian on a Highway or on Public Property, except where permitted to do so by the City. 

(h) No person shall cause or permit Nuisance Noise at any Designated Time.

(i) No Person shall occupy a Roof at any time unless engaging in Roof Maintenance activities or construction.

2.1 Nuisance Party

(i) No Person shall sponsor, conduct, continue, host, create, allow, cause or permit a Nuisance Party.

(ii) No Person shall attend a Nuisance Party.

(iii) No Person who individually or jointly with others, is an Owner, occupant, tenant or otherwise has rightful possession of or in possessory control of any Premises, shall allow, cause or permit a Nuisance Party on said Premises.

(iv) Every Person who sponsors, conducts, continues or hosts, creates, allows, causes or permits a Nuisance Party shall take all reasonable and lawful actions to end a Nuisance Party.


3.0 Exemptions 

(a) Notwithstanding section 2 of this bylaw, this bylaw shall not apply to any of the following:

  • (i) the City; 
  • (ii) the Regional Municipality of Waterloo; 
  • (iii) the Government of Ontario;
  • (iv) the Government of Canada; or,
  • (v) a Public Utility in the performance of its duties.

4.0 Permits 

(a) Notwithstanding any other section of this bylaw, any person may apply to the Director of Bylaw Enforcement, in writing, for a permit. 

(b) When applying for a Permit, an applicant may be required by the Director of Bylaw Enforcement to submit any or all of the following:

  • (i) the name and address of the applicant;
  • (ii) a description of the proposed nuisance; 
  • (iii) the location at which the proposed nuisance will take place; 
  • (iv) the period of time for which an exemption Is sought; 
  • (v) reasons why the Permit should be granted; and,
  • (vi) the applicable fee, pursuant to the City's Fees and Charges Bylaw. 

(c) In considering an application for a permit, the Director of Bylaw Enforcement shall have regard to the following; 

  • (i) a description of the proposed nuisance;
  • (ii) the location of where the nuisance will take place; 
  • (iii) the period of time for which the exemption is being sought;
  • (iv) the reasons why the applicant thinks the Permit should be granted; and,
  • (v) any applicable City bylaws or policies. 

(d) After considering the merits of a Permit application, the Director of Bylaw Enforcement may: 

  • (i) grant a Permit;
  • (ii) grant a permit, subject to certain terms or conditions deemed necessary or advisable by the Director of Bylaw Enforcement; or, 
  • (iii) deny the Permit. 

(e) A Permit may be immediately revoked by the Director of Bylaw Enforcement if an applicant, or any person acting on their behalf, such as an agent, contractor, employee or volunteer:

  • (i) provided false or misleading information on the Permit application submitted to the City;
  • (ii) violates this bylaw;
  • (iii) violates any other City bylaw or policy; or,
  • (iv) violates any of the terms or conditions of a Permit.

5.0 Inspection 

(a) The City may enter on land at any reasonable time for the purpose of carrying out an Inspection to determine whether or not the following are being complied with: 

  • (i) this bylaw; or,
  • (ii) an order made under s. 431 of the Municipal Act, 2001.

(b) For the purposes of conducting an inspection pursuant to s. 5(a) of this by­law, the City may, in accordance with the provisions of s. 4:36 of the Municipal Act, 2001:

  • (i) require the production for inspection of documents or things relevant to the inspection;
  • (ii) inspect and remove documents. or things relevant to the inspection for the purpose of making copies or extracts;
  • (iii) require information from any person concerning a matter related to the inspection; and,
  • (iv) alone or in conjunction with a person possessing special or expert knowledge, make examinations or take tests, samples or photographs necessary for the purposes of the inspection.

(c) No person shall hinder or obstruct, or attempt to hinder or obstruct, any person who is exercising a power or performing a duty under this bylaw.


6.0 Order to discontinue activity 

(a) Where the Director of Bylaw Enforcement or a Police Officer has reasonable grounds to believe that a contravention of this Bylaw has occurred, the Director of ByLaw Enforcement or a Police Officer may make an order requiring the person who contravened this Bylaw, or who caused or permitted the contravention, or the owner or occupier of the land on which the contravention occurred, to discontinue the contravening activity.

(b) An order under s. 6(a) of this bylaw shall set out:

  • (i) reasonable particulars of the contravention adequate to identify the contravention and the location of the· land on which the contravention occurred; and,
  • (ii) the date by which there must be compliance with the order.

(c) Any person who contravenes an order under s. 6(a) of this bylaw is guilty of an offence.

(d) An order under Section 6(a) of this bylaw may be given orally or may be served personally on the person to whom it is directed.

6.1 Order to leave 

Municipal Law Enforcement Officer, Police Officer, or a Special Constable may order all persons not residing at the Premises to leave to Premises where a Nuisance Party is occurring.

a) An order under s. 6.1(a) may be issued verbally or in writing to any Person believed to be sponsoring, conducting, continuing, hosting, creating, allowing, causing, permitting or attending a Nuisance Party. No person shall fail to leave the Premises after having been ordered to do so under section 6.1(a).


7.0 Work order 

(a) Where the Director of Bylaw Enforcement has reasonable grounds to believe that a contravention of this bylaw has occurred, the Director of Bylaw Enforcement may make an order requiring the person who contravened this bylaw, or who caused or permitted the contravention, or the owner or occupier of the land on which the contravention occurred, to do work to correct the contravention.

(b) An order under s. 7(a) of this bylaw shall set out:

  • (i) reasonable particulars of the contravention adequate to Identify the contravention and the location of the land on which the contravention occurred; and,
  • (ii) the date by which there must be compliance with the order.

(c) An order under s. 7(a) of this bylaw may require work to be done even though the facts which constitute the contravention of this bylaw were present before this bylaw came into force.

(d) Any person who contravenes an order under s. 7(a) of this bylaw is guilty of an offence.


8.0 Remedial action 

(a) if a person fails to do a matter or thing, including comply with an order under this bylaw, as directed or required by this bylaw, the City. may, in default of it being done by the person directed or required to do it, do the matter or thing at the person's expense. The City may recover the costs of doing a matter or thing from the person directed or required to do it by action or by adding the costs to the tax roll and collecting them in the same manner as municipal taxes.

(b) The costs outlined in s. 8(a) of this bylaw shall include Interest calculated at a rate of 15% per annum, calculated for the period commencing on the day the City incurs the costs and ending on the day the costs, Including the interest, are p􀈦id in full.

(c) The amount of the costs, including interest, constitutes a lien on the land upon the registration in the proper land registry office of a notice of lien. The lien is In respect of all costs that are payable at the time the notice is registered plus Interest accrued to the date the payment is made. Upon receiving payment of all costs payable plus interest accrued to the date of payment, the City shall register a discharge of the lien in the proper land registry office. 

8.1 Recovery of costs

(a) In addition to any other fees or costs, and to any remedies or penalties imposed pursuant to this bylaw, the City may impose a fee or charge upon any Person causing, permitting, sponsoring, organizing or conducting a gathering contrary to s. 2.1(a) of this bylaw.

(b) The amount of the fee or charge imposed pursuant to s. 8.1(a) shall be the amount of:

  • (i) an administrative fee of $80.00; and
  • (ii) the actual costs incurred by the City in relation to damage to Public Property and/or to the clean-up of Public Property, in relation to the said gathering.

(c) The fees and charges outlined in Section 8.1(b) of this bylaw shall include interest calculated at a rate of 15% per annum, calculated for the period commencing for the day the City incurs the cost and ending on the day the costs, including the interest, are paid in full.'

(d) The City may recover the fees or charges imposed on a Person pursuant to this Section by action.

(e) Where all the owners of a property are responsible for paying certain fees and charges imposed pursuant to this bylaw, the City may add such fees and charges to the tax roll for the property and collect them in the same manner as municipal taxes.

The amount of the fees and charges, including interest, constitute a lien on the land upon registration in the proper land registry office of a notice of lien. The lien is in respect of all costs that are payable at the time the notice is registered plus interest accrued to the date the payment is made. Upon receiving payment of all costs payable plus interest accrued to the date of payment, the City shall register a discharge of the lien in the proper land registry office.


9.0 Enforcement 

(a) This bylaw may be enforced by Municipal Law Enforcement Officers, Police Officers, and/or Special Constables.

(b) Every person shall, upon request by a Municipal Law Enforcement Officer, a Police Officer or a Special Constable, for the purpose of commencing a proceeding pursuant to this by-law, provide identification, including full name and address, to the Officer.

(c) No person shall provide false, misleading, incomplete or inaccurate identification to a Municipal Law Enforcement Officer, Police Officer or Special Constable.

(d) The provisions of this bylaw shall apply in addition to the provisions of any other applicable bylaw.


10.0 Penalties 

(a) Every person who contravenes any of the provisions of this byIaw is guilty of an offence and pursuant to section 429 of the Municipal Act, 2001 all contraventions of this bylaw are designated as continuing offences.

(b) Every person, excluding a corporation, who is convicted of an offence, is liable to a maximum fine of Twenty-Five Thousand Dollars ($25,000.00) for the first offence and a maximum fine of Fifty Thousand Dollars ($50,000.00) for a subsequent offence.

(c) Every corporation who is convicted of an offence is liable to a maximum fine of Fifty Thousand Dollars ($50,000.00) for the first offence and One Hundred Thousand Dollars ($100,000.00) for a subsequent offence

(d) In addition to the fine amounts set out in sections 10(b) and 10(c) of this bylaw, for each day or part of a day that an offence continues, the maximum fine shall be Ten Thousand Dollars ($10,000.00). The total of all daily fines for the offence is not limited to One Hundred Thousand Dollars ($100,000.00).

(e) Sections 2, 2.1, 6(c) and 7(d), inclusive of all subsections thereunder, of this bylaw are hereby designated as parts of this bylaw to which the Administrative Penalty Bylaw applies.

(f) Any person who contravenes any Designated Provision of this bylaw shall, upon issuance of a penalty notice in accordance with the Administrative Penalty Bylaw, be liable to pay an administrative penalty and any administrative fees.


11.0 Fees and charges 

(a) Council may impose fees and charges to recover its costs in relation to the administration and enforcement of this bylaw.


12.0 Short title 

(a) This bylaw shall be known as the "Nuisance Bylaw."


13.0 Severability 

(a) If a Court of competent jurisdiction should declare any section or part of a section of this bylaw to be invalid, such section or part of a section shall not be construed as having persuaded or influenced Council to pass the remainder of this bylaw and it is hereby declared that the remainder of this bylaw shall be valid and shall remain in full force and effect. 


14.0 Repeal 

(a) Bylaws 76-63, 05-018, 74-65, and 74-131 of the City are hereby repealed as well as all bylaws amending the same and any portions of the Municipal Code relating to the nuisances described in section 2 of this bylaw. 


15.0 Coming into force 

(a) This bylaw shall come into force and effect on January 1, 2012.


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