The City of Cambridge has many programs and incentives that support the vibrant and successful business community, both City wide and Core Areas. These programs and incentives include Business Improvement Areas (BIAs), support for local entrepreneurs, streetscape renewal programs, and other development programs.

Core areas financial incentives

Core Area Incentives

The Core Areas Community Improvement Plan (CIP) 2021 provides the basis for improvement programs and initiatives within designated CIP Project Areas in the City of Cambridge. It focuses on Cambridge’s three core areas as designated in the Official Plan and Community Improvement Project Area By-law. CIP's, programs and initiatives facilitate the planning and financing of development activities that effectively use, reuse and revitalize lands, buildings and infrastructure. They prioritize municipal investment and are intended to stimulate private sector investment, property maintenance and revitalization within the project areas.

It is important for the City to help renew and grow Cambridge's downtown core areas. These areas are a part of our history and culture, and show the quality of life in our city. The City of Cambridge has three historic core areas - Galt City CentrePreston Towne Centre, and Hespeler Village.

Core Areas CIP Programs

Under the new CIP there are 5 new programs for the Project Areas. Programs 1 through 4 are stackable with each other as they are interior and exterior programs. Program 5 is a stand alone program that is for transformational projects. You can view the CIP here.

The booklet with all City of Cambridge Financial Incentives can be downloaded here.

You can download the New Application Form to apply for any of the programs as well.

The new programs are:

 1. Commercial Property Improvement Grant Program (CPIG) 
 The Commercial Property Improvement Grant Program is intended to provide financial assistance for commercial property owners/authorized tenants within the Core Areas as identified within the Official Plan. The Program aims to improve upon the appearance of commercial properties, support commercial property/business owners with limited rehabilitation of interior space and assist in creating a barrier free and accessible environment. 


Buildings that have a linear foot street frontage of 25 feet or less (25’), grants will be paid on a matching 50/50 basis to a maximum of $15,000 for eligible work under the Program.


Buildings that have a linear foot street frontage greater than twenty-five feet (25’), grants will be paid on a matching basis of $600 per linear foot of street frontage up to a maximum of $25,000 for eligible work under the Program.


As a further incentive for corner properties the City will increase the maximum grant amount to $30,000, on a similar matching basis for eligible work under the Program to recognize the importance of flankage facades. The grant amount will be determined by the measurement of the street frontage and the measurement of the corner/exposed wall multiplied by $600 per linear foot.


An additional $5,000 will be added to the maximum funding for each item listed below:
  • Heritage listed – additional $5,000
  • River frontage – additional $5,000
  • Accessibility features – additional $5,000
This brings a maximum funding amount of any property to $45,000.


Before and After Photos

 2. Commercial Building Restoration, Renovation and Improvement Grant Program (CBRRIG)
This grant has the potential to leverage significant private sector investment in interior building renovations and improvements, and help address the costs involved with renovations.


This program is restricted to the conversion of vacant, residential, or underutilized space to use as: a restaurant, market or Place of Assembly related to arts, culture, and/or recreation or rehabilitation of existing, or conversion of space for commercial use. 


The program will be matching grants of up to 50% of eligible costs up to a maximum grant amount. If the building is a single commercial floor, the grant amount will be $50,000 per property. If the building is two or more floors of commercial use, the grant amount will be up to $100,000 per property. 
The maximum grant may increase by $5,000 for the inclusion of enhanced accessibility elements. This will bring the total maximum funding amount to $105,000.


Before and After Photos

 3. Mixed Use Conversion and Restoration Grant Program (MUCRG)
 The Mixed Use Conversion and Restoration Grant Program is aimed at attracting new investment and interest in converting currently non-residential vacant or underutilized upper storey space to residential units and renovating the existing commercial space located below by providing a financial incentive that will be targeted at the costs of converting the space. It is intended to stimulate the creation of new residential units on the upper storeys of existing mixed use buildings and renovating or restoring ground floor commercial occupancies.


The Commercial Restoration portion of the matching grant will be up to 50% of eligible costs up to a grant of $50,000 per property.  The maximum grant may increase by $2,500 for the inclusion of enhanced accessibility elements to $52,500 per property.
The Residential Conversion portion of the Grant Program will consist of a grant, whereby property owners will be eligible to receive a grant of up to $10,000 for every new residential unit created or every unit that has been vacant on the upper floors of an existing mixed use building, up to a grant of $100,000 per property.  The maximum grant may increase by $2,500 per unit for the creation of accessible residential units up to a maximum of $125,000 per property. 
The total amount combined of the grant of the eligible costs is up to a maximum grant of $150,000 per property.  The total amount for projects that include accessible residential units as well as enhanced accessibility elements on the ground floor is a maximum grant of $177,500 per property. 


Before and After Photos

 4. Core Areas Waiver of Application Fees 
The following application fees may be waived if applications are for properties that are located within the Core areas as defined in the Official Plan. This waiver will only be applicable to mixed used, commercial and high density housing, and will not be for single detached homes.


  • Minor Variances.
  • Sign Permits and Sign Variances.
  • Building Permits.  
 5. Tax Increase-based Equivalent Grant Program (TIEG)
The Tax Increase-based Equivalent Grant Program offers grants to eligible applicants whose City property tax has increased as a result of the planning or replanning, design or redesign, resubdivision, clearance, development or redevelopment, reconstruction and rehabilitation of a property within one of the designated Community Improvement Project Areas, resulting in the incremental improvement of the built character of these areas.


Property taxes for the City of Cambridge are calculated by the following ratio:

  • Waterloo Region: 35.60%
  • School Board: 39.27%
  • City of Cambridge: 25.13% 


Annual grants may be equal to 75% of the City’s portion of the property tax increase. The development must meet and incorporates exemplary design standards and contributes to maintaining the heritage character of the Community Improvement Project Area.

For more information on these programs, contact our Economic Development Officer, Michael Marini Via Email or by phone at (519) 740-4685 ext. 4352

City-wide financial incentives

The City of Cambridge also offers citywide financial incentive programs.

Tax Increment Grant Program (TIG)

The TIG Program provides tax grants to help property owners with the remediation and redevelopment of contaminated sites. This program provides a grant equal to the full amount, or a portion of the amount, of the property tax increase after a property is redeveloped and reassessed. The City uses the difference in taxes between the pre-remediated and redeveloped site to provide a grant to the applicant for some costs related to environmental remediation.

Complete the TIG Application Form to apply for this program.

Contact the Senior Planner, Reurbanization for more information.

Heritage Grant Program

The Heritage Grant Program provides financial assistance to owners of designated heritage structures for conservation and restoration. Property owners may qualify for a grant of up to half the cost of the work completed to conserve the heritage elements of the building, up to a maximum of $5,000 per calendar year.

Contact the Planner - Heritage at (519) 621-0740 ext. 4788 for more information about the Heritage Grant Program.

Employment Land Development Charge Reduction

The Economic Development Division provides an Employment Land Development Charge Reduction for new buildings or additions on properties within specific designated employment lands, such as the Boxwood Business Campus.

Contact the Economic Development Division for more information about this program.

Development Charge Exemptions

The City of Cambridge Development Charge By-law also provides Development Charge Exemptions for various types of properties located citywide, including:

  • Industrial buildings, as defined, located within specific areas may receive a reduction of up to 50 per cent of the development charges payable for additions
  • Contaminated sites, which require remediation, may credit an amount against the development charge otherwise payable equal to the amount of the costs to clean-up the site
  • Designated sites, under the Ontario Heritage Act, may be exempt from development charges payable for redevelopment or additions provided the designated building is retained and is an integral part of the development
  • Land subject to development charges with existing well and/or septic services may receive a development charge credit for water and/or waste water
  • Proposed new buildings for the purposes of farming may not require development charges

Call the Development Charges Coordinator at (519) 621-0740 ext. 4271 for more information.

View our Financial Incentives Brochure to learn more.

Back to the Rivers

Cambridge City Council approved a multi-year plan called Back to the Rivers. The plan involves a number of infrastructure efforts designed to enhance the city's waterfront areas in all three core areas to make them more enjoyable for businesses and residents.

Some of the Back to the Rivers projects include:

  • Historic Galt Post Office conversion to Idea Exchange (Galt)
  • Redesign of Water Street parking lot 2 and community space (Galt)
  • Core area transportation study, to assist in future developments (Galt)
  • Dickson Street reconstruction (Galt)
  • Pedestrian bridge across the Grand (Galt)
  • Connect pedestrian walkway along the Grand River to the platform at the School of Architecture (Galt)
  • Enhancements to the east walkway along the Grand, such as new railings, benches, trees and ground cover (Galt)
  • Streetscaping improvements in central core (Hespeler)
  • Community dock repairs (Hespeler) (complete 2014)
  • Trail construction along the Speed (Hespeler)
  • River access improvements (Hespeler)
  • Streetscaping improvements in central core (Preston)
  • Riverside Park community trail (Preston)
  • Reconstruction or alteration of Riverside Park dam (Preston)
Canvas for Success

Looking for the right property to own or lease within Cambridge's core areas? The City of Cambridge Canvas for Success is an available property inventory that helps you find the perfect location for your business.

Learn more about available sites and buildings in Cambridge.