Our patio program is for restaurant operators who want to renew their patio approval, create a new temporary outdoor patio, or to expand the footprint of an existing patio on public or private property.

Renew your existing patio agreement

Apply for a new temporary patio extension

On this page:

  1. Renew a temporary patio
  2. Businesses in downtown Kitchener
  3. New temporary or expanded patios
  4. New permanent patios
  5. Existing permanent patios
  6. Fees
  7. Guidelines

Renew a temporary patio

If you were a part of our patio expansion program in 2021 and are still using the same plans, you can renew your patio agreement online.

Renew your existing patio agreement

Required documents

You must include these documents in your renewal application:

  • liquor licence (if applicable)
  • if your patio is on public property, your insurance company or broker must complete a 2022 Standard Certificate of Insurance (for alcohol or not with alcohol)

Businesses in downtown Kitchener

If you're a member of the Downtown Kitchener Business Improvement Area (BIA), the BIA will contact you directly about their enhanced patio program to determine your eligibility. If you want to take part in their enhanced patio program, please send the BIA an email before applying.


New temporary or expanded patios

If you want to temporarily create a new outdoor patio or expand an existing patio, you must request approval through our patio program. Applicants must follow the patio guidelines and provide the documents below.

Apply for a temporary patio expansion

Required documents

You must include these documents in your new temporary patio application:

  • liquor licence (if applicable)
  • plan that identifies the location, boundary and footprint of your patio
  • diagram of your patio
  • if your patio is on public property, your insurance company or broker must complete a Standard Certificate of Insurance (for alcohol or not with alcohol)

New permanent patios

Permanent patios are not covered by this program. If you have any questions about your patio, please send us an email. If you want to build a new permanent patio, you must submit a site plan application.


Existing permanent patios

If you have an existing patio and don't plan on temporarily expanding the size or footprint, you don't need any further approvals from the City of Kitchener.


Fees

The fee for a first-time patio application is $300 including HST and is only paid in the first year you set up your temporary patio with the City. In addition, patio encroachment fees are paid annually. All fees will be invoiced by the City of Kitchener.

For patios on public property, the patio renewal encroachment agreement fees for 2022 are:

  • patios with 12 or fewer seats: $150 including HST
  • patios with 13 or more seats: $300 including HST
  • amendment to existing patio agreement (if required): $150 including HST

If your temporary patio is on private property, you do not need to pay encroachment fees.


Guidelines

The guidelines in the accordions below outline the requirements for temporary or expanded patios and safety requirements for commonly used patio equipment. Before designing or developing a proposal for your patio, please review these guidelines to ensure your design meets these standards.

Some patio designs and locations are unique and may require additional information and approval.

If you have any questions, contact:

Patio location and footprint

Patios on public (city) and private property within the City of Kitchener must abide by the following guidelines. Patios requesting to access property on regional roadway sidewalks or parking spaces must also abide by the Region of Waterloo’s patio guidelines.

You must obtain written authorization from your property owner that confirms the property owner’s consent to allow your proposed patio. You will not need to submit this authorization, however the City may, at any time, require you to provide documentation (ex: written letter, email, etc.).

As part of your application, you will be required to submit a plan which clearly identifies the location, boundary and footprint of your proposed patio. The boundary may be outlined on an aerial photograph or on an approved site plan and must take the following location and boundary guidelines into consideration.

Location guidelines

  • Patio designs should be barrier-free and accessible, and may not block any walkways or ramps
  • Patios must not be located in a designated fire route or obstruct access to any fire hydrants, hose (Siamese) connections, or fire exits
  • Patios must be located outside driveways and corner visibility triangles (i.e. sightlines for drivers turning corners). Such triangles may be shown on the approved site plan.
  • Patios must not be located in curb lane closure areas
  • Patios must not be located within 3 metres (10 feet) of an intersection
  • Where located on a walkway, the patio should continue to maintain a minimum walkway of 2.5 metres. If patio tables are located at least 0.7 metres from the edge of the patio, the minimum walkway may be reduced to 1.8 metres.

If located in a parking area:

  • the patio shall not obstruct any fire routes or significantly impeded access from the fire route to the main entrance
  • the patio limits should not be located directly adjacent to an active parking stall. Where possible, a minimum buffer of 1 half of a parking space should be provided.
  • the patio shall not cover any barrier free parking spaces, unless said parking spaces are planned to be replaced in an alternate, suitable location. Alternate new spaces must be developed in consultation with Transportation Planning, to City design standards.

Patio boundary

  1. The limits of the patio must be clearly defined as follows:
    • Patio tables should be positioned in such a manner as to ensure 1.8 metres of physical distancing can be maintained between patio patrons and passing pedestrian traffic. Appropriate measures shall be incorporated to ensure protection of patrons on the patio. This could include measures such as fencing or planter boxes.
    • The boundary must be readily distinguishable, through the use of measures such as pavement markings, painted lines, flower pots, fencing, etc.
    • If adjacent to traffic, the patio must be defined utilizing measures which ensure vehicles cannot enter the patio, such as fencing, planters, etc.
  2. Where located adjacent to the restaurant, the patio must maintain a minimum 1.8 metre wide unobstructed pathway from the door to the sidewalk or parking area.
  3. Where located away from the restaurant (such as in a parking area) the patio must maintain a minimum 1.8m entrance into the patio.
  4. Tables and chairs must be located in a manner that achieves physical distancing guidelines at the time. Presently, a minimum of 1.8 metres should separate any grouping of tables and chairs.
  5. Consideration for barrier free and wheelchair access to the patio should be provided at all times

Patio seating and layout

As part of your application, you will be required to submit a Patio Layout Plan. In developing your layout, you must include and indicate considerations for the above location and boundary requirements.

Your Patio Layout Plan must show the following:

  • dimensions of the patio
  • patio entrance
  • location of all tables and chairs
  • sizes and dimensions of all tables and chairs
  • host/hostess stand if applicable
  • widths of all walkways/aisle ways
  • distance between tables/seating and edge of patio, if greater than 0 metres
  • indicate what you will use to distinguish and mark the limits of your patio (ex. Flower pots, fencing, painted lines, etc.) 

If you want a sample diagram of a sufficient submission, send us an email.

Based on the sketch provided, the City will develop a digital, scaled plan of the proposed patio layout using a standardized template.

Structures

Patio building permits

Temporary and expanded patios may require building permits for enhancements, structures, or capacity increases. These guidelines will denote when a patio building permit is required and additional requirements may apply. Contact building staff or our building permits page for permit application requirements.

Patio floors

A building permit is required if:

  • the patio floor does not bear directly on the ground surface, and in this instance, must be designed by a professional engineer

No building permit is required if:

  • a patio is installed on the concrete sidewalk or pavement and has no roof
  • the patio has a new floor with the standard dimensional lumber floor joists (e.g. 2x12 or less and spaced 16” apart or less) bearing directly on the ground surface. In this instance the patio must still be barrier-free and accessible (e.g. by ramp)

Pop-ups, shade sails, and tents

Patios are permitted to have a shade covering via umbrella, pop-up (collapsible tent), shade sail or tent adhering to the following guidelines:

  • All pop-ups, shade sails or tents must have a fabric certification tag that meets CAN/ULC S109 (Flame Tests of Flame-Resistant Fabrics and Films) or NFPA 701 (Fire Tests for Flame Propagation of Textiles and Films)
  • Pop-ups and tents must allow for proper exiting, not obstruct fire access route(s), fire hydrant(s), building hose connections or access to the building
  • Shade sails may be fastened to the building (except during winter)
  • Tents may be only used for patio coverage. Cooking may not take place underneath tents.
  • Tent structures are not permitted during the winter or anytime snow is present.
  • Pop-ups are permitted during the winter, however they must be promptly kept clear of snow and ice and maintained free of potential falling snow and ice. Pop-up access points must also be maintained clear of snow and ice.

Restaurant operators are responsible for ensuring the pop-up, shade sail or tent roof is secured from inclement weather, such as strong winds, and removed during winter or unexpected snow event.

A tent building permit is required:

  • When a tent or group of tents is more than the 60 sq. m. (640 sq.ft.) in aggregate area
  • or
  • Is attached to a building,

Any tent greater than 60 sq.m. (640 sq.ft.) in area must be a minimum of 3 m (10 ft) from any building or property line. Requests to place tents less than 3 m (10 ft) to the building may be approved pending site conditions.

Any tent larger than 225 sq.m. (2,422 sq.ft.) in area requires a design by a professional engineer.

Electricity needs on public patios

If a business with a temporary patio on public property wishes to have lighting or other electrical needs supplied to their patio from their building they are required to:

  1. Hire a Licensed Electrical Contractor to perform the work
  2. an Electrical Permit is to be taken out with the Electrical Safety Authority
  3. the local Inspector will then visit the site to ensure Code Compliance.
Once this is complete ESA will issue a Certificate of Completion to the Contractor who can forward that on to the business owner. You must send us a copy of this certificate. Restaurants are not permitted to access City of Kitchener electrical outlets.
Operating requirements

Capacity

All patio applications must include a requested occupant load (inside, patio & staff) for review by the City.

Streamlined process: no changes to total occupancy

The streamlined patio process does not require further approvals for occupancy if the total occupancy of the restaurant and the patio does not exceed the total seating capacity of your building permit/liquor license.

Seating currently provided inside the restaurant may be removed and replaced with equivalent seating on the patio, or where the current indoor seating capacity is less than the occupant load, the additional seating capacity may be assigned to the patio.

For example, if your total occupancy on your building permit or liquor license is 100 and your patio seats 20, you may only have 80 people inside.

Adding capacity

If you wish to expand your patio seating capacity beyond your total occupancy limit, a review by Building staff must be conducted.

For example, if your total occupancy on your building permit or liquor license is 100 and you would like to seat 40 people on your patio as well as 80 people inside, Building staff must conduct a review to ensure safety requirements can be met with increased capacity. 

Portable heating appliances

Portable heating appliances must:

  • When using propane heaters, comply with all TSSA standards outlined in the TSSA Standards Act, 2000 when using propane heaters
  • When using electrical heaters, comply with all ESA permit requirements and in conformance with the manufacturer’s instructions
  • Be designed for outdoor use only

Portable heating appliance operating guidelines:

  • Use with a minimum of 1m (3 ft) clearance from the base of the unit to any combustible material
  • Keep out of the wind. Wind negatively impacts efficiency and can create a hazard if blown over
  • Use on a non-combustible solid surface (i.e. not on grass or uneven sidewalk)
  • Do not move portable heater while the flame is open. Ensure the gas supply is properly shut off and the unit is cool before relocating,
  • Follow all manufacturer safety requirements for the safe transportation, operation, and storage of fuel
  • Electric heaters must be plugged directly into an outlet; extension cords are not permitted
  • Have a fire extinguisher (2A10BC) accessible inside at the door leading to the patio area
  • Must be placed away from fire escapes, exits, trees, utilities, or other street elements and cannot obstruct fire hydrants or Siamese connections
  • Portable heaters must not be placed underneath a combustible structure (i.e. canopies, awnings, tents, wood framework) or stored inside

Propane tanks (pressurized fuel cylinders)

  • The storage and use of propane tanks must comply with all TSSA standards outlined in the TSSA Standards Act, 2000
  • Stored in an area free from vehicular or mobile equipment travel, or protected by barriers or the equivalent
  • Placed so that the cylinder is at least 3m (10’) from any building opening, and is at least 3m (10’) from any air intake
  • Stored in an area where “NO SMOKING” signs are prominently displayed
  • Only heaters using 20 lb propane tanks or less will be allowed. Keep a maximum of one (1) day’s supply of propane on site
  • Spare cylinders shall be stored at a location physically and remotely separated from the public in an area that provides protection from tampering
  • Propane tank must be requalified or replaced every 10 years

Regulations 

You must abide by any applicable municipal, provincial, or federal legislation, including the changing COVID-19 restrictions and obtaining your 2022 City of Kitchener business license. Bylaws and regulations include, but are not limited to:

Insurance for patios on public property

Certificates of Insurance (COI) are required for every application (new or renewal) requesting use of public space. Patios located on private property are not required to submit their insurance documents to the City but are fully liable for insuring their property and business.

Liability insurance coverage levels will vary depending on whether the patio is licensed to serve alcohol (AGCO Licensed Premise) OR patio is an unlicensed outdoor space. 

Insurance requirements

  • Patios located on city property must name The Corporation of the City of Kitchener as additionally insured
  • Patios that extend onto a Regional road within the boundaries of the City of Kitchener, must name the Regional Municipality of Waterloo as an additional insured, as well as the City of Kitchener
  • Insurer must be licensed to conduct business within the province of Ontario
  • If there is a deductible, it must be $100,000 or less (and shown on the certificate). If higher than $100,000, will require approval from the City of Kitchener’s Risk Management department
  • Policy must contain (and must be shown on certificate):
    • Coverage for bodily injury and property damage liability
    • A liquor liability endorsement (only for licensed establishments)
    • Products and completed operations liability
    • Personal injury liability
    • Advertiser’s liability
    • Cross liability endorsement
    • Severability of interests provision
    • 30-day notice of cancellation in the event of cancellation, lapse, non-renewal, expiration, or material change in the policy (10 days if cancellation for non-payment of premiums) must be provided to the City of Kitchener

All coverages outlined above must extend beyond the applicant’s premises to include the patio extension onto municipal property, which must be reflected on the COI.

Unlicensed patios

Patios not serving alcohol (“unlicensed patios”) must be insured with general liability with limits of $2 million or more.

If there is an aggregate limit, it must be double the minimum occurrence limit. For unlicensed patios with $2 million general liability, aggregate coverage must be $4 million or higher.

Download the Unlicensed Patio - Standard Certificate of Insurance

Licensed patios

Patios serving alcohol (“licensed patios”) must be insured with general liability with limits of $5 million or more.

If there is an aggregate limit, it must be double the minimum occurrence limit For licensed patios with $5 million general liability, aggregate coverage must be $10 million or higher.

Download the Licensed Patio - Standard Certificate of Insurance

Group insurance

We recognize that some insurers may not extend coverage onto municipal property and have arranged group insurance specific to patio encroachments onto municipal property through IRC (InstantRiskCoverage). Create an online account and access group coverage through the online portal.