Cambridge is home to three historic cHespeler Villageore areas, each with their own unique shops, vistas and vibe. These are the original downtowns for each of our founding communities of Galt, Preston and Hespeler. 

The Core Areas Community Improvement Plan (CIP) 2021 provides the basis for improvement programs and initiatives within designated CIP Project Areas in the City of Cambridge. It focuses on Cambridge’s three core areas as designated in the Official Plan and Community Improvement Project Area By-law. CIP's, programs and initiatives facilitate the planning and financing of development activities that effectively use, reuse and revitalize lands, buildings and infrastructure. They prioritize municipal investment and are intended to stimulate private sector investment, property maintenance and revitalization within the project areas.

We encourage you to review the draft Core Areas Community Improvement Plan and provide your feedback to us. If you have a comment please email or call us at (519) 740-4685.

Core Areas CIP Project Areas

The Community Improvement Project Areas are the Community Core Areas as designated in the Official Plan, namely Hespeler Village, Preston Towne Centre, and Galt City Centre (Downtown Cambridge). 

 The Community Core Areas are further described in Section 2.6.3 of the Official Plan as the historic business centres and cultural hubs in Cambridge with specialized and diverse planned functions. The Community Core Areas are designated below in the following maps.

  • Hespeler Village  
  • Preston Towne Centre
  • Galt City Centre (Downtown Cambridge)                                                                             

Hespeler Village MapPreston Towne Centre MapGalt City Centre Map

Core Areas CIP Programs

Under the new CIP there are 5 proposed programs for the Project Areas. Programs 1 through 4 are stackable with each other as they are interior and exterior programs. Program 5 is a stand alone program that is for transformational projects.

The new proposed programs are:

 1. Commercial Property Improvement Grant Program (CPIG) 
 The Commercial Property Improvement Grant Program is intended to provide financial assistance for commercial property owners/authorized tenants within the Core Areas as identified within the Official Plan. The Program aims to improve upon the appearance of commercial properties, support commercial property/business owners with limited rehabilitation of interior space and assist in creating a barrier free and accessible environment. 


Buildings that have a linear foot street frontage of 25 feet or less (25’), grants will be paid on a matching 50/50 basis to a maximum of $15,000 for eligible work under the Program.


Buildings that have a linear foot street frontage greater than twenty-five feet (25’), grants will be paid on a matching basis of $600 per linear foot of street frontage up to a maximum of $25,000 for eligible work under the Program.


As a further incentive for corner properties the City will increase the maximum grant amount to $30,000, on a similar matching basis for eligible work under the Program to recognize the importance of flankage facades. The grant amount will be determined by the measurement of the street frontage and the measurement of the corner/exposed wall multiplied by $600 per linear foot.


An additional $5,000 will be included in the total grant for buildings with frontage on the Rivers and Heritage Buildings.


Before and After Photos

 2. Commercial Building Restoration, Renovation and Improvement Grant Program (CBRRIG)
This grant has the potential to leverage significant private sector investment in interior building renovations and improvements, and help address the costs involved with renovations.


This program is restricted to the conversion of vacant, residential, or underutilized space to use as: a restaurant, market or Place of Assembly related to arts, culture, and/or recreation or rehabilitation of existing, or conversion of space for commercial use. 


The program will be matching grants of up to 50% of Eligible Costs up to a maximum grant of $100,000 per property.


Before and After Photos

 3. Mixed Use Conversion and Restoration Grant Program (MUCRG)
 The Mixed Use Conversion and Restoration Grant Program is aimed at attracting new investment and interest in converting currently non-residential vacant or underutilized upper storey space to residential units and renovating the existing commercial space located below by providing a financial incentive that will be targeted at the costs of converting the space. It is intended to stimulate the creation of new residential units on the upper storeys of existing mixed use buildings and renovating or restoring ground floor commercial occupancies.


The Commercial Restoration portion of the matching grant will be up to 50% of eligible costs up to a maximum grant of $50,000 per property.


The Residential Conversion portion of the Grant Program will consist of a grant, whereby property owners will be eligible to receive a grant of up to $10,000 for every new residential unit created or every unit that has been vacant for more than 5 years on the upper storey(s) of an existing mixed use building, up to a maximum of $100,000 per property. The amount of the grant will be determined based upon the new number of residential units created as a result of the conversion of the upper storeys from a non-residential use. 


The total amount combined of the grant of the eligible costs is up to a maximum grant of $150,000 per property.


Before and After Photos

 4. Core Areas Waiver of Application Fees 
The following application fees may be waived if applications are for properties that are located within the Core areas as defined in the Official Plan. This waiver will only be applicable to mixed used, commercial and high density housing, and will not be for single detached homes.


  • Minor Variances.
  • Sign Permits and Sign Variances.
  • Building Permits.  
 5. Tax Increase-based Equivalent Grant Program (TIEG)
The Tax Increase-based Equivalent Grant Program offers grants to eligible applicants whose City property tax has increased as a result of the planning or replanning, design or redesign, resubdivision, clearance, development or redevelopment, reconstruction and rehabilitation of a property within one of the designated Community Improvement Project Areas, resulting in the incremental improvement of the built character of these areas.


Property taxes for the City of Cambridge are calculated by the following ratio:

  • Waterloo Region: 35.60%
  • School Board: 39.27%
  • City of Cambridge: 25.13% 


Annual grants may be equal to 75% of the City’s portion of the property tax increase. The development must meet and incorporates exemplary design standards and contributes to maintaining the heritage character of the Community Improvement Project Area.

 Before and After Photos


Public Meetings and Consultation 

This CIP is still in development and the City of Cambridge is in the process of doing consultations with key stakeholders at this time. A Mandatory Public Meeting will be held in the near future to discuss the Community Improvement Plan and its Programs. It will be held on May 25th, 2021.


Consultations Completed
OrganizationDate Complete
Economic Development Advisory Committee Wednesday, February 10, 2021
Shades Mill Law Association Tuesday, March 9, 2021
Hespeler Village BIA Wednesday, March 10, 2021
Downtown Cambridge BIA Tuesday, March 16, 2021
Preston Towne Centre BIA Wednesday, March 17, 2021
Municipal Heritage Advisory Committee Thursday, March 18, 2021
Cambridge Chamber of Commerce Wednesday, March 24, 2021

We encourage you to review the draft Core Areas Community Improvement Plan and provide your feedback to us. If you have a comment please email or call us at (519) 740-4685.