Patio and Outdoor Dining Area Permits - COVID-19

The City of Cambridge has implemented a streamlined process and is waiving permit fees 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 public health directives in terms of capacity numbers and physical distancing guidelines and AGCO regulations: AGCO Information Bulletin.

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 licences to help ensure the safety of our citizens and your customers. The City issues licences for stationary businesses and some mobile businesses, such as:

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

When you apply for a business licence, 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
How to apply

Visit our new Online Applications Portal to apply.


To apply for a business licence you need the following:

  • Business Licence Application completed by either an individual owner, a partner or the president or signing officer of the corporation
  • A criminal record check, if required
  • Completed inspections of your location by Police, Fire, Building Services and/or Public Health, if required
  • Licensing fee

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 licence.


City of Cambridge business licenses expire each year on March 31.  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.

Need help?
If you have any questions or need help, contact our Licensing Officer (519)740-4680, ext. 4581 before submitting your business licence application or starting your business. We'd be happy to help you with the application process.

Common business permits and licences

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

Busker licence
Street performers must apply for Busker Licence. View the Busker By-law to learn about busking rules and regulations in the city of Cambridge.
Food truck licence

According to the Food Truck By-law, you need to apply for a Food Truck Licence 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

In response to the challenges faced by restaurant and bar owners due to COVID-19, the City of Cambridge is providing a streamlined process to accelerate approvals for new or expanded temporary outdoor private and sidewalk patios.

The streamlined Temporary Patio Program is in effect till December 31, 2021

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:

Apply for a 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:

Apply for a Temporary Private Patio Permit

If you are looking to apply for a private patio permit within the City of Cambridge, please complete our application below:

Outdoor Heaters

The below information and requirements are to assist your business in the use of outdoor heaters. Propane heaters, including the fuel source and storage, are regulated by the Technical Standards and Safety Authority (TSSA). TSSA oversees the following:

  • transmission, distribution, and transportation
  • storage and dispensing
  • burning
  • Installing outdoor heaters

Before installing heaters or storing propane cylinders at your business, you must:

Contact TSSA to understand your responsibilities as it concerns to propane safety regulations. It is the sole responsibility of each business to ensure they are following any standards or procedures stipulate by the TSSA.

If you are using a propane heater at your business, the City’s Fire Prevention Office may be visiting your location to ensure that no obvious fire safety issues exist. Cambridge Fire Rescue prohibits the following:

  • use of propane heaters in an enclosed space that presents a fire or carbon monoxide hazard
  • use of propane heaters in a manner not permitted by the manufacturer’s specifications and/or recommendations

If you are using an outdoor heater that is situated on any portion of municipal property, please advise the City’s Engineering & Transportation Services office as consent is required from the City and/or Region.

For any other types of fuel sources other than propane for outdoor heaters, contact the City’s Fire Prevention Office at 519-621-6001 for more information.


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 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

Adult entertainment parlour licence

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

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

Transient and charitable event licence

To run a charity BBQ event (one-day fundraising event), you must apply for a Transient and Charitable Event Licence. Application fees will be charged at the time of application submission.

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

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

Food premises and renewal
Complete the Renewal Licence application if you are renewing your business licence.
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 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 amy 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 Licences
The City of Cambridge requires all drain layers, drain contractors and backflow prevention testers to be licenced. Please submit a completed copy of the trades licence application form to obtain or renew your licence.

Some businesses within the city of Cambridge must apply for a liquor, lottery or tobacco licence in addition to their business licence.

Liquor licence

The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) issues liquor licences for businesses in Ontario. To apply for a licence, complete the Liquor Sales Licence Application.

You must also complete a Municipal Information Form and submit it to the City of Cambridge Clerk's Division. Please submit the $26.50 administrative fee with your completed form, in person or by mail, to the City Clerk at:

50 Dickson Street, Second Floor
Cambridge, ON N1R 5W8

Hours of Operation: Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. 

You must also contact the following departments:

Building Division (519) 623-1340

Fire Department (519) 621-6001

Region of Waterloo Health: (519) 575-4400

We will also send your form to the Waterloo Regional Police Service for comment. Once Agency letters have been signed, please bring them, along with the completed Municipal Information Form to the Clerk's Division. City staff will then review all documents and submit to the City Clerk for signature. City staff will contact to let you know the completed form is ready for pickup at the Clerk's counter. 

Special Occasion Permits and temporary licence extensions

Visit the AGCO website for information about a special occasion permit or a temporary liquor licence 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 licences. The City ensures all legal requirements, including terms and conditions to the licences, 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 licences 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 licences 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.