A municipality may require you obtain a license depending on your business location and type of business activity. In addition, if you are starting a new business (including a home-based business), building a new structure, or moving into an existing one, it is important to determine if the location is zoned for the type of business you are planning to establish and to ensure that you have the appropriate permits in place. It is recommended that you contact your local municipality to discuss by-laws, zoning, permits, and other rules and regulations that could impact your business start-up activities.
Click on the Municipal Information to obtain more information about business licensing and permit requirements.
A zoning by-law controls the use of land in your community. I may determine how land or property may be used, where buildings can be located, lot size dimensions, parking requirements, building permitted uses, etc.
It is important to ensure that the proposed use of your property is allowed by the zoning bylaw. Many municipalities have their own zoning by-laws that outline specific zoning categories with accompanying detailed maps. Generally there are 3 types of business-related zones:
There are also some zones referred to generally as “mixed use” zones, where a combination of business and, for example, residential uses, may be permitted. This can also apply to areas zoned rural and agricultural. For example, fruit stands are permitted in many municipalities for areas zoned agricultural, with specifications on size, location from the road, etc.
If you want to change the use of your property in any way that is not allowed by the current zoning by-law, you will need to apply for a zoning changing. Contact your local Municipality’s Planning Department for advice and information.
A building permit is a permit for construction, renovation and demolition of a building. As a small business, you will need a building permit you plan on:
- Constructing a new building on your property for your business
- Making a significant change in the use of a building
- Installing a plumbing system in the building
- Installing or repairing an on-site sewage system
- Making significant changes to the interior of the building
You can apply for a building permit through your local municipality. It is recommended that you contact the Building Department to discuss requirements, obtain advice, and review the application process.
Heritage conservation provides the community with many educational, social, economic and cultural benefits. Funding may also be available for work that conserves or restores the historic fabric of a heritage building. Those communities that have areas designated for heritage preservation will have certain rules and regulations with respect to building appearance, upkeep, colours and modifications. The Town of Collingwood has a designated heritage district in the downtown core. Please contact the Town directly to review requirements if you are considering opening a business within the heritage zone.
Site Plan info
A Site Plan is a drawing, or set of drawings, illustrating the physical arrangement of property improvements such as buildings, driveways, parking areas, pedestrian sidewalks, landscaping, fences, light fixtures, drains and municipal services.
Site plan approval is required in order to receive a building permit for major building renovations, additions to or construction of new commercial, industrial or institution buildings. It is important to contact the Planning Department in your local municipality to determine if your project requires a site plan, to understand the requirements for submitting the plan for approval, and to discuss the approval process. The site plan approval process is intended to be an interactive process involving both the property owner and municipal staff to match the property/business owner’s requirements with both the unique characteristics of each property and municipal development standards and guidelines. The approval process promotes functional and attractive development, while minimizing adverse impacts on the surrounding land uses.
Business Improvement Area (BIA)
Business Improvement Areas are defined areas within a town (typically within the downtown core) in which businesses pay an additional tax or fee in order to fund improvements within those boundaries. BIAs can provide services such as cleaning streets, making capital improvements, construction of pedestrian and streetscape enhancements, and marketing the area. The services provided by BIAs are supplemental to those already provided by the municipality. BIA levies are usually included on the property tax bill.
BIAs operate in the following communities:
- Downtown Collingwood
- Downtown Thornbury
- Village at Blue Mountain – Blue Mountain Village Association (is not classified as a BIA but operates as business/marketing association)
Land Use Planning Guide for Businesses from the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing
The BizPal website provides businesses with one-stop access to permit and licensing information for all levels of government.