Patio and Outdoor Dining Area Permits

The City of Cambridge has implemented a streamlined process to make it faster and easier for restaurant owners to expand or create new patios and outdoor dining areas. To apply, see the section below on Sidewalk patio permits.  

Restaurant owners will be expected to follow the City of Cambridge and Region of Waterloo patio guidelines. 

Any restaurant owners with questions about the application process can call Service Cambridge at (519) 623-1340.   

Looking to start or grow your business?

The City of Cambridge (in partnership with the Region of Waterloo, Service Ontario, and Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada) offers a one-stop online service called BizPaL to help local businesses get started or expand by providing access to information on business permits and license requirements from all three levels of government. BizPaL makes it faster and easier for you to get started. It's free to use and available online 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Business licensing

Check out our new Online Applications Portal to apply.

Most businesses in Cambridge must be licensed by the City of Cambridge to operate legally. The City requires business licenses to help ensure the safety of our citizens and your customers. The City issues licenses for stationary businesses and some mobile businesses, such as:

  • Barber shops
  • Beauty salons
  • Motor vehicle service facilities
  • Food shops
  • Public halls
  • Refreshment vehicles
Regulations

When you apply for a business license, you must first meet all building, zoning and fire department regulations. The Waterloo Regional Health Unit must also approve some specialized business, such as:

  • Hair salons
  • Aestheticians
  • Businesses where food products are prepared or sold
  • Tattoo parlours
  • Refreshment canteen, ice cream and food truck vehicles
Applying For a New Business License 

Visit our new Online Applications Portal to apply.

 To apply for a business license you need the following:

  • Articles of Incorporation, Master Business License OR Business Name Registration (only 1 of these is required) 
  • Certificate of Insurance (COI)
    • Showing a minimum $2,000,000 commercial general liability
    • List the City of Cambridge as an additional insured
  • A criminal record check, if required
  • Public Health report, depending on your type of business
  • Licensing fee
Business Licensing FAQs

What does the licensing section do?

We ensure that businesses we license are safe, carry adequate insurance and have been properly inspected in order to create a minimal risk to the public. 

What types of businesses need to be licensed?

Many businesses require licenses. Specifically businesses that could potentially harm an individual or the community. Some examples are: restaurants, hair salons, auto repair, food trucks, bakeries, public halls, buskers 

How long will it take to get my business licensed?

It depends on many factors that also include department sign offs and inspections. We recommend starting the application online a minimum of 3 weeks before your proposed opening.

What documents should I have ready for my Business License Application?

Applicants will need either their Articles of Incorporation, Master Business License OR Business Name Registration (only 1 of these is required). You will need your COI (certificate of insurance) showing a minimum $2,000,000 commercial general liability and the City of Cambridge listed as an additional insured.

Should I ensure that a business is licensed before using their services?

Yes, if you are eating at a restaurant, getting a tattoo, hiring a food truck for an event or taking your car for an oil change, consider asking the owner or manager if they have a municipal business license.

 

By-laws

Business licensing by-laws help enforcement officers protect the community against infractions related to:

  • Public health and safety
  • Nuisance control
  • Consumer protection

Visit our by-law page to view a list of our business-related by-laws.

Licensing fees

Licensing fees offset the cost of the related enforcement and inspection programs. The cost of administering and enforcing licensing regulations should be covered by the regulated trades and not the public.

Fees vary by type of business license.

Renewals

City of Cambridge business licenses expire each year on March 31st.  In early March you will receive a renewal email which outlines the online renewal process and the amount to renew your license. Please ensure you upload your insurance showing 2 million in general liability as well as your Master Business License. Payments can be made online through the portal. Alternatively, you can renew your license in person at:

City of Cambridge
Clerks Department
50 Dickson Street
Cambridge, ON N1R 5W8

If you choose to come into the office, please ensure you have your insurance showing 2 million in general liability and your Master Business License with you. The City Clerk's office accepts payments made by cash, cheque, visa, mastercard or debit card.

Contacting the Licensing Officer 

If you have any questions or concerns involving Business Licensing, Lottery Licensing or Liquor Licensing, you can contact the Licensing Officer directly

Common business permits and licenses

Below you will find information about some of the most common business-related permits and licences issued by the City of Cambridge.

Busker license
Street performers must apply for a Busker License. View the Busker By-law to learn about busking rules and regulations in the City of Cambridge.
Food truck license

According to the Food Truck By-law, you need to apply for a Food Truck License to operate a food truck in the City of Cambridge.

Your business will also need to meet the Region of Waterloo Public Health Special Events Food Vendor Requirements.

Patio Permit Program

The City of Cambridge is providing a streamlined process to accelerate approvals for new or expanded temporary outdoor private and sidewalk patios on the City right-of-way.

Restaurants and bar owners need to apply for a patio permit allowing them to do business on a temporary outdoor private patio or on a City sidewalk.

Before you apply, please ensure you have met our requirements below:

Sidewalk Patio Permit 

If you are looking to apply for a sidewalk patio in in the Downtown cores of Galt, Hespeler or Preston, please complete our application below:

Tents

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

  • A building permit is not required for a tent if the tent area is maximum 60 sq.m. (640 sq.ft.) and minimum 3 metres (10’) from any building line;
  • Tents smaller than 60 sq.m. (640 sq.ft.) and closer than 3 metres (10’) to each other will require a building permit if the aggregate area of all tents exceeds 60 sq.m.;
  • No open flame cooking is permitted within a tent;
  • When erecting a tent, consideration is required for the following items; tent exits, not to obstruct fire access route(s), fire hydrant and if applicable building hose connections;
  • Tents installed during inclement weather (snow) must be cleared from the roof promptly and clear access maintained;
  • Any tent larger than 225 sq.m. in area requires a design by a professional engineer.

Prior to putting up of any tents, please consult with the Building Standards Division at building@cambridge.ca to determine if a building permit is required.

It is the permit applicant’s responsibility to ensure compliance with all applicable legislation; such as The Liquor Control Act, The Alcohol and Gaming Regulation and Public Protection Act, The Ontario Fire Code, The Ontario Building Code Act, Region of Waterloo Public Health and The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act.

Any questions regarding the application process can be directed to transportation@cambridge.ca

Adult entertainment parlour license

Complete the Adult Entertainment Parlour License application to apply for a business license in order to operate any adult entertainment business in Cambridge. The Adult Entertainment Establishments By-law regulates these licenses.

There is also a special Adult Entertainment Parlour Licence Renewal Form for these types of licenses.

Charitable BBQs and Events 
  • Application must be made a minimum of 5 business days’ prior to the event 
  • Applicant must send an email to licensing@cambridge.ca with all the required details of the charitable bbq:
    • event date
    • organization name
    • charitable details
    • location of event
    • items being sold 
  • There must be a charitable aspect to the bbq, (e.g. giving away the items for free as part of a larger charitable event or giving the proceeds to a charitable organization) 
  • Approval letter will be provided by email and should be kept at the event with the event organizer

Businesses running an event also need to review the City of Cambridge Alcohol Risk Management Policy.

Food premises and renewal
Complete the Renewal License application if you are renewing your business license.
Building permit
You may need to apply for different types of building permits, depending on your project and the work you need completed.
Sign permit

Signs in the City of Cambridge must meet the regulations of the Cambridge Sign By-law, which regulates:

  • The use of signs
  • The use of other advertising materials
  • The posting of notices on buildings
  • The posting of notices on vacant lots

The By-law applies to lands within the City of Cambridge or next to any defined highway or part of a highway within the City limits.  

To apply for a Sign Permit you can either apply in person at City Hall or apply online

Please submit the following information:

  • Sign Permit application form (complete both pages)
  • Two copies of your Site Plan (plot plan)
  • Two copies of your working drawings/sign drawings
  • Sign installation commitment form (if required)
    • the requirement of design and review by a professional engineer, to demonstrate compliance with 3.15.3.1.(1) of Div. B., will be required for:
      • Individual projecting signs with a weight exceeding 25 kg, 
      • A ground sign that exceeds 1.8 m in height,
      • A projecting sign attached in any manner to a parapet wall, 
      • A roof sign that has any face that is more than 10 square meters
  • Sign permit fees can be found in the fee section of the permits page

The turn around time to issue a sign permit or provide comment as to why it could not be issued is 10 working days.

Trade Licenses
The City of Cambridge requires all drain layers, drain contractors and backflow prevention testers to be licensed. Please submit a completed copy of the trades license application form to obtain or renew your license.
Liquor & Lottery Licenses

Liquor license

The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) issues liquor licenses for businesses in Ontario.  Information about applying for a liquor license can be found on their website. AGCO New Applications  

In order to complete your liquor license application with the AGCO, you are required to provide signed approval from the City of Cambridge. 

In order to do so, a completed Liquor License Package needs to be submitted to the Business License and Compliance Officer with payment of $65.00. 

Your application will be submitted to the Waterloo Regional Police Services for commenting 

The package MUST include all of the following:

  • Municipal Information Form filled out and ready to be signed by the City Clerk or designate
  • A copy of your Driver’s License (front and back)
  • Agency Letter of Approvals signed by each of the following:
    •  City of Cambridge Building Department 519-623-1340

    • City of Cambridge Fire Prevention 519-621-6001
    • Region of Waterloo Public Health 519-575-4400

 

Special Occasion Permits and temporary license extensions

Visit the AGCO website for information about a special occasion permit or a temporary liquor license extension. You require Council's approval in order to apply for a Special Occasion Permit for the sale and service of alcohol at special occasions, such as a public event. Contact us for more information.

Lottery and Gaming Licensing

The AGCO authorizes the City of Cambridge to provide local businesses with lottery and gaming licenses. The City ensures all legal requirements, including terms and conditions to the licenses, are met by lottery licensees and any gaming suppliers used by charities.

The Criminal Code of Canada defines what types of gaming activities are illegal in Canada, and the provinces are responsible for operating, licensing and regulating legal forms of gaming.

Bingo Hall Operator

You must register with the AGCO to own or operate a bingo hall in Ontario.

Charitable gaming

The City of Cambridge issues licenses for some types of lottery and gaming events for eligible charitable, religious and non-profit organizations. Eligible organizations must:

  • Have been in existence for at least one year
  • Provide charitable community services consistent with a primary object and purpose of the organization for at least one year
  • Demonstrate that it is established to provide charitable services in the City of Cambridge
  • Use proceeds for charitable purposes that benefit Cambridge and its residents
  • Assume full responsibility for the conduct and management of its lottery events

Learn how to register as a charity or non-profit organization.

Raffle lottery

raffle lottery involves selling tickets for a chance to win prizes, including 50/50 draws, elimination draws and calendar draws. Raffle lottery licenses are available for total prizes of $50,000 or less.

Break Open Ticket

Break Open Ticket (also known as Nevada tickets, pull tabs or BOTs) is a cardboard device with a cover or window tabs that break or open to reveal symbols behind the cover. The back of the ticket specifies a winning combination of symbols.

Electronic bingo

The AGCO introduced Electronic Bingo Centres in 2013. This program is not yet available to all eligible organizations, in accordance with Ontario Lottery Gaming (OLG) requirements. Contact our Licensing Officer for more information about electronic bingo events.

Fire and open air burning permits

The City of Cambridge requires you to apply for a burn permit for any open air burning not related to cooking on a grill or barbeque.

Publication distribution box permit

To apply for a permit for a publication distribution box, email us or call (519) 621-0740 ext. 4324.

Register as a charity or non-profit

You apply to register a charity or non-profit organization through Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). After registering your organization, you can apply for a gaming license for charitable events.

Registered charity tax rebate

Registered charities operating in Cambridge can apply for a property tax rebate.