Community Improvement Plan (CIP)

Eligible property owners and tenants in the uptown area can receive grants for various renovation projects.

Contact the Economic Development Office at 519-747-8530 or cip@waterloo.ca to learn more.


On this page:

  1. City-wide COVID-relief
  2. Facade improvement grant
  3. Year-round grants

City-wide COVID-relief

Grant opens June 1, 2021.

    • grants of up to $2,500 to recover COVID-19 related expenses dating back to March 2020
    • provide support for businesses across the city that have been impacted during the COVID-19 pandemic
    • financial support for the additional costs associated with building and space alterations in response to COVID-19
    • other improvements may be approved by the Executive Director of Economic Development

Physical distancing improvement grant - 100% reimbursement

Upgrades required to install physical distancing measures to meet public health and safety needs.

  • installation of protective screens/physical barriers
  • floor markings to encourage safe distancing and delineate traffic flow
  • signage/displays to encourage physical distancing compliance
  • physical building modifications or space reconfigurations (addition/removal of walls) to optimize business
  • workstation modifications to enable physical distancing
Business adaptation grant - 100% reimbursement
Physical or operational changes to your business in order to safely operate or ensure financial viability.
  • physical modifications required to provide for curbside pick-up, or delivery services
  • washroom/change room modifications
  • physical changes to promote touch-free access such as automatic doors/touchless faucets
  • purchase of additional equipment or furniture that promotes health and safety
Improved ventilation grant - 100% reimbursement
Retrofitting and enhancements to improve ventilation and air quality with COVID-19 recommendations.
  • improved air purification system and air-exchange systems
  • upgrades to heating/air conditioning ventilation
  • implementation and upgrade in exhaust fans
  • window or door replacement to promote the air movement in accordance to COVID-19
Outdoor business improvement grant - 100% reimbursement
Constructing or furnishing outdoor patio or seating areas, to expand capacity or extend the season in response to COVID-19.
  • infrastructure and/or permanent fixtures to enable the construction or expansion of an outdoor patio
  • addition of covered outdoor space to provide shelter for components of operations that were previously conducted indoors
  • improvements to provide for all season use of outdoor spaces to implement COVID-19 related requirements (including permanent seating)
Technology expansion grant - 100% reimbursement
Cost of tech infrastructure to add connection or install digital practices to move business online.
  • physical infrastructure required to enhance internet connectivity

Before you apply

Please ensure you have met all eligibility criteria laid out below.

Eligibility criteria

  1. industries that work in:
    • food services
    • hospitality and tourism
    • retail stores
    • arts, culture and entertainment
    • not-for-profit organizations that deliver programs or services
    • personal care services
    • recreation (gyms, yoga studios, personal trainers, etc.)
    • registered medical practitioners
  2. business must be within the City of Waterloo
  3. must have a valid business licence if required and comply with zoning bylaws
  4. franchises must be independently owned and operated
  5. no more than 80 employees, full or part-time as of January 1, 2020; food services businesses no more than 90 full or part-time employees
  6. home-based businesses are are eligible for the technology expansion grant
  7. must show a 30% reduction in gross revenue over 6 months between March 17 to December 31, 2020 compared to 2019; if your business was not operating you must demonstrate a need for funding and will be considered on a case-by-case basis
  8. businesses that opened after March 17, 2020 must show a lease agreement
  9. if you did not receive the full $2,500 form the Uptown BIA Come Back-Up Fund in 2020 or 2021 you can only apply for expenses that were not reimbursed
  10. if you received a grant from RTO4/Explore Waterloo through the Tourism Adaptation and Recovery program, the city may fund the 20% contribution required by the business or any expenses that were not reimbursed
  11. the city will not reimburse expenses that already received reimbursement through another program
  12. must be in good financial standing with the city related to municipal taxes, fees and charges
  13. all eligible expenses for works must have taken place after the declared State of Emergency on March 17, 2020
  14. business owner must have made every effort to be in full compliance with all government and Public Health recommendations as it related to COVID-19 and have worked with Public Health to ensure that their business operations are in compliance related to COVID-19 protocols

Application process

In order to apply for the city-wide covid-relief grant, you will need to meet all the application requirements and have following supporting documents:

mandatory documents

    • copy of drawings/permits/photos of completed work
    • copy of receipts or documentation to show completed work
    • HST/corporate income tax returns for any six month period between 2019 to 2020 to show 30% reduction in gross revenue

business specific documents

    • letters of incorporation if business is franchised
    • articles of incorporation if not-for-profit business
    • lease agreement if business opened after March 17, 2020
    • owner authorization letter if business operator does not own building
    1. Register or sign-in to the mypermits application. Note – this application is not Internet Explorer compatible.
    2. On the top menu:
      1. Click “COVID”
      2. Then click “Apply for Grant”
      3. Begin the application process
    3. All supporting documents can be submitted through the online application.
    4. Any questions regarding the application process can be directed to cip@waterloo.ca

Apply for the CIP grant

Download the full CIP and program requirements (PDF) for details, or contact the Economic Development Office at 519-747-8530 or cip@waterloo.ca to learn more.


Facade improvement grant

            • to improve appearance of streetscape and buildings, and conserve heritage features
            • city and UpTown BIA grants are matched to funding from the applicant
            • heritage designation grant does not require matching funds
Grant type Regular property Corner property
Matching grant from city Up to $10,000 Up to $15,000
Additional grant for designated heritage properties $5,000 $5,000

Application process

                1. Book a pre-application meeting with economic development officer by phone at 519-747-8530 or email to cip@waterloo.ca
                2. Following the meeting, download and complete an application form (PDF).
                3. Submit your application form by the specified deadline to cip@waterloo.ca (a scanned copy of the application form is accepted).

If you need support applying via email, contact 519-747-8530 or cip@waterloo.ca

After work is complete you are required to provide documentation. Staff will review it and issue payment for complete submissions within two to three weeks. 


Year-round grants

            • intended for large re-urbanization projects over 5,000 sq. ft. that create new floor space for affordable housing units and/or non-residential uses that include an office employment component
            • provides a tax increment grant equal to a portion or full amount of the estimated property tax increase after the property is redeveloped and reassessed
            • additional incentives will be provided for developments that include heritage conservation and/or sustainable building design and construction

Major activity grant matrix

As-built project achieves a minimum of 5,000 sq. ft. requirements: Amount of grant as percent of municipal tax increment associated with employment use Duration of grant
Level 1 - building floor area for office employment has a minimum floor space ratio 1.0 80% six years

Level 2 - building floor area for office employment has a minimum floor space ratio 1.0 with:

  • designated heritage resource
  • achieves LEED certification or other sustainable design/construction standards recognized by the city
90% eight years

Level 3 - building floor area for office employment has a minimum floor space ratio 1.0 with:

  • designated heritage resource
  • achieves LEED certification or other sustainable design/construction standards recognized by the city
100% 10 years

Affordable housing uses matrix

As-built project achieves a minimum of 5,000 sq. ft. requirements: Amount of grant as percent of municipal tax increment associated with employment use Duration of grant
Level 1 - minimum of 10% of residential units provided in a residential or mixed-use building are affordable as defined by this CIP, with no fewer than 10 affordable residential units 50% six years

Level 2 - minimum of 10% of residential units provided in a residential or mixed-use building are affordable as defined by this CIP, with no fewer than 10 affordable residential units and:

  • designated heritage resource
  • achieves LEED certification or other sustainable design/construction standards recognized by the city
50% eight years

Level 3 - minimum of 10% of residential units provided in a residential or mixed-use building are affordable as defined by this CIP, with no fewer than 10 affordable residential units and:

  • designated heritage resource
  • achieves LEED certification or other sustainable design/construction standards recognized by the city
50% 10 years

Parking exemptions program

            • program will facilitate small scale non-residential building conversions and expansions
            • emphasis on office expansions or changes in use where the developer is unable to provide the on-site parking as required by the city's zoning bylaw

Application process

To begin the application process, book a pre-application meeting with economic development officer by phone at 519-747-8530 or email to cip@waterloo.ca.