Community Improvement Plan

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People walking along Willis Way towards the Seagram Lofts.

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected many businesses, both within and outside the uptown area. The City of Waterloo COVID-relief Community Improvement Plan (CIP) is intended to help provide support for businesses across the city that have been adversely impacted during the COVID-19 pandemic. A CIP is a tool that allows a municipality to direct funds and implement policy initiatives toward a specific project area, and enables municipalities to make grants or loans within CIP project areas to help pay for certain costs and stimulate private sector investment in the community.

This support will help businesses cover the additional costs associated with building and space alterations and in obtaining professional advice to support their business and respond to COVID-19, through five program streams: Physical Distancing Improvements Grant, Business Adaptation Grant, Improved Ventilation Grant, Outdoor Business Improvement Grant and Technology Expansion Grant. These five programs will support expenditures incurred to enhance premises, digital business or health and safety measures to respond to government and customer needs. Businesses may include expenditures from more than one program area.

The recommended COVID-Relief Community Improvement Plan will be considered by council at a formal public meeting on April 19, 2021 and will be uploaded to this page following approval.



Details of the Financial Grant

TOTAL: This grant will provide businesses up to $2,500. Examples of eligible expenditures are noted below.

Physical Distancing Improvement Grant

100% reimbursement

Improvements required to implement physical distancing measures to meet public health and safety requirements.

  • 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.
  • Other improvements as may be approved by the Executive Director of Economic Development.

Business Adaptation Grant

100% reimbursement

Physical or business operations modifications required to support changes required for businesses to operate safely or to 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.
  • Other improvements as may be approved by the Executive Director of Economic Development.

Improved Ventilation Grant

100% reimbursement

Retrofitting and enhancements to improve ventilation and air quality in accordance 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.
  • Other improvements as may be approved by the Executive Director of Economic Development.

Outdoor Business Improvement Grant

100% reimbursement

Constructing or furnishing outdoor patio or seating areas, required 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)
  • Other improvements as may be approved by the Executive Director of Economic Development.
Business Adaptation Grant100% reimbursement

Technology Expansion Grant

100% reimbursement

Cost of technological infrastructure required to enhance connectivity or to implement digital practices to move their business online.

  • Physical infrastructure required to enhance internet connectivity.
  • Other improvements as may be approved by Executive Director of Economic Development.



Eligibility Criteria

Eligible sectors include Retail, Food Services, Hospitality & Tourism, Arts, Culture & Entertainment, Not-for-profits, Personal Care Services, Recreation, Medical Practitioners, and Independently Owned Franchises.

Businesses must have a valid business license with the City of Waterloo, where applicable and be physically operating within the geographic boundary of the City of Waterloo. Where they are exempt from a business license, they must comply with zoning requirements.

Businesses must be able to demonstrate a 30 percent reduction in revenue over a six month time period between March 17, 2020 and December 31, 2020 compared to the same period in 2019 confirmed through HST returns, Corporate Income Tax Return, or other acceptable financial statement as approved by the Executive Director of Economic Development. Where a business is unable to demonstrate a 30 percent reduction in gross revenues, specifically for those businesses that are new and were not in operation during 2019, the applicant must demonstrate a need for the funding and will be considered eligible on a case-by-case basis at the discretion of the Executive Director of Economic Development.

Small and medium sized businesses must have 1 – 80 employees (full-time or part-time). For food services, the maximum number of employees should not exceed 90 (full-time or part-time).

Business must be operational prior to March 17, 2020 or those that are able to demonstrate that they secured a lease agreement/ownership prior to March 17, 2020.

Businesses applying for the COVID-Relief Grant that have received funding from the Uptown BIA Come Back Up Fund in 2020 or 2021 may only apply to this fund for any expenses that were not reimbursed to a maximum of $2,500 for both programs. Where businesses have been successful in receiving a grant from RT04/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. All eligible expenses for works must have taken place after the declared State of Emergency on March 17, 2020.



Application and Program Procedure

  1. CIP grant applications will be submitted with all supporting documents.
  2. Staff will review completed applications against eligibility and program criteria.
  3. Approved applicants will be notified with details of payment. Those not approved will also be notified.
  4. If the project has not started, the applicant must notify staff. Staff will request for photos of the work along with receipts and will determine if all conditions have been met prior to issuing funds.
  5. Staff will issue the grant once conditions are met on a first come basis until funds are exhausted.


Thank you for your feedback

Our goal is to help targeted sectors who have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. Thank you for taking our survey and providing feedback. We wanted to make sure we didn't miss anything important with our recommended COVID-relief Community Improvement Plan.

Next steps

We have reviewed the feedback submitted through our survey and our comments received and the recommended COVID-relief Community Improvement Plan will be considered by council at a formal public meeting on April 19, 2021.


The COVID-19 pandemic has affected many businesses, both within and outside the uptown area. The City of Waterloo COVID-relief Community Improvement Plan (CIP) is intended to help provide support for businesses across the city that have been adversely impacted during the COVID-19 pandemic. A CIP is a tool that allows a municipality to direct funds and implement policy initiatives toward a specific project area, and enables municipalities to make grants or loans within CIP project areas to help pay for certain costs and stimulate private sector investment in the community.

This support will help businesses cover the additional costs associated with building and space alterations and in obtaining professional advice to support their business and respond to COVID-19, through five program streams: Physical Distancing Improvements Grant, Business Adaptation Grant, Improved Ventilation Grant, Outdoor Business Improvement Grant and Technology Expansion Grant. These five programs will support expenditures incurred to enhance premises, digital business or health and safety measures to respond to government and customer needs. Businesses may include expenditures from more than one program area.

The recommended COVID-Relief Community Improvement Plan will be considered by council at a formal public meeting on April 19, 2021 and will be uploaded to this page following approval.



Details of the Financial Grant

TOTAL: This grant will provide businesses up to $2,500. Examples of eligible expenditures are noted below.

Physical Distancing Improvement Grant

100% reimbursement

Improvements required to implement physical distancing measures to meet public health and safety requirements.

  • 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.
  • Other improvements as may be approved by the Executive Director of Economic Development.

Business Adaptation Grant

100% reimbursement

Physical or business operations modifications required to support changes required for businesses to operate safely or to 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.
  • Other improvements as may be approved by the Executive Director of Economic Development.

Improved Ventilation Grant

100% reimbursement

Retrofitting and enhancements to improve ventilation and air quality in accordance 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.
  • Other improvements as may be approved by the Executive Director of Economic Development.

Outdoor Business Improvement Grant

100% reimbursement

Constructing or furnishing outdoor patio or seating areas, required 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)
  • Other improvements as may be approved by the Executive Director of Economic Development.
Business Adaptation Grant100% reimbursement

Technology Expansion Grant

100% reimbursement

Cost of technological infrastructure required to enhance connectivity or to implement digital practices to move their business online.

  • Physical infrastructure required to enhance internet connectivity.
  • Other improvements as may be approved by Executive Director of Economic Development.



Eligibility Criteria

Eligible sectors include Retail, Food Services, Hospitality & Tourism, Arts, Culture & Entertainment, Not-for-profits, Personal Care Services, Recreation, Medical Practitioners, and Independently Owned Franchises.

Businesses must have a valid business license with the City of Waterloo, where applicable and be physically operating within the geographic boundary of the City of Waterloo. Where they are exempt from a business license, they must comply with zoning requirements.

Businesses must be able to demonstrate a 30 percent reduction in revenue over a six month time period between March 17, 2020 and December 31, 2020 compared to the same period in 2019 confirmed through HST returns, Corporate Income Tax Return, or other acceptable financial statement as approved by the Executive Director of Economic Development. Where a business is unable to demonstrate a 30 percent reduction in gross revenues, specifically for those businesses that are new and were not in operation during 2019, the applicant must demonstrate a need for the funding and will be considered eligible on a case-by-case basis at the discretion of the Executive Director of Economic Development.

Small and medium sized businesses must have 1 – 80 employees (full-time or part-time). For food services, the maximum number of employees should not exceed 90 (full-time or part-time).

Business must be operational prior to March 17, 2020 or those that are able to demonstrate that they secured a lease agreement/ownership prior to March 17, 2020.

Businesses applying for the COVID-Relief Grant that have received funding from the Uptown BIA Come Back Up Fund in 2020 or 2021 may only apply to this fund for any expenses that were not reimbursed to a maximum of $2,500 for both programs. Where businesses have been successful in receiving a grant from RT04/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. All eligible expenses for works must have taken place after the declared State of Emergency on March 17, 2020.



Application and Program Procedure

  1. CIP grant applications will be submitted with all supporting documents.
  2. Staff will review completed applications against eligibility and program criteria.
  3. Approved applicants will be notified with details of payment. Those not approved will also be notified.
  4. If the project has not started, the applicant must notify staff. Staff will request for photos of the work along with receipts and will determine if all conditions have been met prior to issuing funds.
  5. Staff will issue the grant once conditions are met on a first come basis until funds are exhausted.


Thank you for your feedback

Our goal is to help targeted sectors who have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. Thank you for taking our survey and providing feedback. We wanted to make sure we didn't miss anything important with our recommended COVID-relief Community Improvement Plan.

Next steps

We have reviewed the feedback submitted through our survey and our comments received and the recommended COVID-relief Community Improvement Plan will be considered by council at a formal public meeting on April 19, 2021.


  • CLOSED: This survey has concluded.

    Our goal is to help targeted sectors who have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic.

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