Outdoor Boulevard Café Encroachment Agreements

If you have an outdoor café or patio and it is located entirely or partially on the City of Hamilton’s property you will need an Outdoor Boulevard Café Encroachment Agreement.

This agreement is a legal and binding agreement between the City and the business owner whose property abuts municipal property.

Location of property line

It is the property owner’s responsibility to find out the exact location of the property line. To find out where your property line is located, you will need to consult your Plan of Survey. If you do not have a Plan of Survey, you will need to hire a qualified Land Surveyor

You need to have a professional engineer, surveyor, planner or architect prepare and submit a Minor Site Plan Application form (PDF, 24 KB) and a patio layout to the City for approval.

The Minor Site Plan should:

  • Show seating layout and capacities
  • Conform with the Zoning By-Law

Submit in person to:

City Hall
71 Main Street West, 5th Floor

Hamilton, Ontario L8P 4Y5

Once you have received approval for your site plan, submit the Outdoor Boulevard Cafe Encroachment Agreement application form (PDF, 157 KB). Include the description of the encroachment and supporting documents such as photos and drawings.

Application fee:  $1500.26. The fee can be paid by cash, cheque (payable to City of Hamilton) or credit card.

Submit in person or by mail to:

Public Works
Geomatics and Corridor Management
Attention: Road Programming Technician

77 James Street North, Suite 320
Hamilton, Ontario L8P 4Y5

Once the City approves your application:

  • An Outdoor Boulevard Café Encroachment Agreement must be completed.
  • A solicitor must complete the agreement and return the three original signed copies to the Public Works Department.
  • The City's signing officers complete the agreement and two copies are returned to you. 
  • Your solicitor must then register the encroachment on title to the property at the Land Registry Office.
  • A metal plaque to fasten on the outside of the establishment or building authorizing use of City property will be issued.
  • The applicant must adhere to the conditions and requirements of an Outdoor Boulevard Café Encroachment Agreement.

There is currently a moratorium on annual fees for outdoor boulevard cafés. However, when the moratorium ends, an annual fee will be added the property tax roll and will remain in place until the outdoor boulevard café is removed and the agreement has been formally discharged.

If you do not enter into an Outdoor Boulevard Café Encroachment Agreement or proceed with your patio plans with a declined application, you will be subject to by-law enforcement.

The conditions and requirements that you must follow for an outdoor boulevard café:

  1. Live or amplified music is not permitted within the outdoor boulevard café.  Café operations must conform to Hamilton's Noise By-Law No. 03-020.
  2. The applicant must allow the representatives of the General Manager, Public Works or any public utility to enter the outdoor boulevard café area for the purpose of installation, maintenance, and repair of pipes, cables, wires, poles and other installations. The cost of restoration is the responsibility of the café owner.
  3. The property owner cannot use any part of the outdoor boulevard café for any other use at any time such as parking, advertising or signs, other than what has been specified in the encroachment agreement.
  4. Only food and beverages prepared and served from the abutting eating establishment are permitted. No outdoor food preparation or service facilities are permitted within the outdoor boulevard café area.
  5. The facilities of the abutting restaurant must provide food preparation, garbage storage and washrooms satisfactory to Public Health Services.
  6. Maximum seating capacity of the outdoor boulevard café is determined by the Planning and Economic Development department.
  7. An annual fee is charged to cover any encroachments such as decks, planters or canopies which occupy the road allowance and the owner(s) are required to enter into an Encroachment Agreement for these items. 
  8. An annual fee will be charged for the outdoor boulevard café encroachment when the current moratorium is lifted.
  9. Applicants must provide details and drawings on the colour, architectural finishes and arrangement of the elements such as chairs, tables, umbrellas, plantings, refuse containers and floor mounted menus as part of their site plan approval application submission.
  10. Lands intended for outdoor boulevard cafés must conform to the Zoning By-Laws of the abutting lands.
  11. Outdoor boulevard café design specifications must adhere to the Barrier Free Design Guidelines and the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act standards.