One Stop for Business

On-Street Patio Program

COVID-19: FAQ for Business Licensing

As the COVID-19 situation in Hamilton continues to evolve, these Frequently Asked Questions for Business Licensing will be regularly updated as circumstances change to provide residents and business owners with current information.

The City of Hamilton's On-Street Patio program allows local businesses to establish temporary seasonal patios and seating areas utilizing on-street parking spaces within:

  • Business Improvement Areas (BIAs)
  • Community Improvement Plan Areas (CIPAs)

In 2016, the City of Hamilton started the On-Street Patio Pilot Program. In March 2017, City Council approved the staff recommendation to make it a permanent program.

The On-Street Patio Program fits with the City’s philosophy of being “Open for Business”.

Applications will be accepted until June 30, 2021. After the deadline, applications will no longer be accepted so that other street events, taking place in the summer and fall months, can properly implement their safety plans and possible road closure plans knowing the exact locations of the on-street patios.

The on-street patio shall:

  • only be permitted within BIAs and CIPAs as per By-law 16-125 (PDF, 2 MB). Applications for on-street patios will be limited to cafes and restaurants only, or non-retail public activities submitted by the BIA. 
  • require a Road Occupancy Permit. Road occupancy must conform with the OTM Book 7*
  • be permitted in any legal on-street parking space (i.e, unrestricted, metered, or time-limited parking) and limited to occupying one parking space
  • comply with all applicable City By-laws
  • permit alcohol service or consumption of alcohol with Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) approval
  • provide proof of commercial general liability insurance ($5 million) coverage endorsed to include the City as additional insured
  • be constructed and maintained by the applicant as per the construction guidelines
  • be fenced with a guard as per the construction requirements and in compliance with the Ontario Building Code
  • be compliant with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA)
  • encourage the use of art to improve the aesthetics of the standard patio enclosures.  Please ensure that the art is appropriate for public display, does not include any advertising, logos or business names and does not in any way imitate traffic signs or signals creating a traffic hazard or distraction.  The City reserves the right to remove any art work that does not meet these standards and may require a sketch rendering of the proposed art piece.
  • be permitted from April 1 to October 31.  The applicant is responsible for removal of the patio no later than November 1.
    • setup or takedown of any structure or materials on the roadway can only be completed by those trained and qualified in the OTM Book 7*

The on-street patio shall NOT:

  • be located in through traffic lanes, rush hour routes or lanes marked as no parking/no stopping/accessible parking
  • permit smoking, pursuant to the Smoke-Free Act and ‘no smoking’ signage shall be posted at the entrance/exit
  • permit advertising, banners or signage on them, including on patio umbrellas, other than reflective or traffic safety related signage
  • permit outdoor food preparation
  • permit electical power cords or any device that cross the travelled portion of the boulevard (sidewalk)
  • permit obstruction of stormwater flows or block stormwater drains. The applicant shall be responsible for clearance of any debris and overall maintenance to ensure free flow. 

*OTM Book 7 is the Ontario Traffic Manual (OTM) Book 7 Signing Requirements for Temporary Conditions which includes the closure of any live lanes downsteam from an occupied parking space (appropriate cones/signs may be required as per OTM Book 7)

A Building Permit is required for all on-street patio platform structures except for any platform structure of any area that meets the following minimum requirements:

  • The floor structure shall be constructed of standard dimension lumber floor joists (ex. 35mm x 190mm (2x8), (35mm x 240mm (2x10) etc.) spaced not more than 406mm on-centre (16” o/c) and bearing directly on suitable ground such that no portion of the floor structure is suspended more than 38mm (1.5”) above grade and the finished floor elevation shall not exceed 355.6mm (14”) from adjacent ground elevation.
  • Solid blocking shall be provided between floor joists at a spacing of not more than 5 feet on-centre with a minimum of 1 row of blocking for any joist spans that exceed 5 feet.
  • The floor joists shall be fastened to rim joists around the perimeter of the floor structure with a
    minimum of four (4) 89mm (3-1/2”) inch-long common spiral nails per joist.
  • The floor structure shall be unenclosed, except that a guard with a height of not less than 914mm (36”) but not greater than 1070mm (42”) shall be installed around the perimeter of the floor structure in accordance with the requirements states elsewhere in this document.
  • Where there is a difference in height between the platform and the adjacent sidewalk a 1500mm (59”) wide ramp with a maximum slope of 1:8 shall be constructed anywhere along the platform adjacent to the sidewalk as shown on sketch SK-1.
  • Except for patio umbrellas, no overhead structures of any kind are permitted including but not limited to any fabric roof coverings, or trellis-type shade structures.
  • The owner/operator of the on-street patio is responsible to examine on an annual basis any materials that are proposed to be reused in the construction of the on-street patio for deterioration such as rotting, cracking, splitting, or any other deterioration that may affect the structural integrity and/or performance of the platform or any portion thereof.


Suitable ground shall mean asphalt or concrete road surfaces or pavements and concrete sidewalks (subject to the approval of the City of Hamilton).

Guard shall mean a protective barrier, with or without openings through it, that is constructed in accordance with the construction requirements.

Patio shall be defined as the use of an on-street parking space for a passive seating area for the public or patrons of a business or Business Improvement Area, including some merchant areas, and they can include landscaping materials in conjunction with the minimum building requirements provided.

Guidelines for applying for an on-street patio

Submission deadline: Submission are accepted only from February 17 to June 1 at 4:30 pm. After the deadline, applications will no longer be accepted for that year.

  • Step 1 - Select a preferred location, based on criteria.
  • Step 2 - If within a BIA, you will need to receive and submit the BIA's written endorsement for the on-street patio (PDF, 92 KB).
  • Step 3 - Prepare a sketch of the proposed patio in accordance to SK-1 and SK-2 (PDF, 157 KB) or Pedestrian Bypass SK-3 (PDF, 106 KB). All on-street patios shall have a minimum of 4.5 metres clearance between the street centreline (on a street with a single lane in each direction) and the edge of the patio, if adjacent to a marked bike lane, the traffic clearance will be 0.25 metres from the edge of the bike lane.
  • Step 4 - Complete the Outdoor Dining Application

Application approval

If the on-street patio is located within a BIA: it will be reviewed/approved by staff and must include BIA consent.

If the on-street patio is located within a CIPA: it will be reviewed/approved by staff in consultation with the Ward Councillor.

If approved, construction of the patio may commence April 1. Staff will attend after construction has been completed and will follow-up with the owner/operator if all requirements are not met.

Contact us

For general inquiries or to apply to the program, contact:
Outdoor Dining Districts
Phone: 905-546-2424 ext. 2632
Email: [email protected]