Municipal Business Regulation

Municipalities may regulate businesses by bylaws and may require businesses to obtain a business licence.

The power to regulate businesses is distinct from the power to prohibit businesses from operating, and the power to impose requirements on businesses. Municipalities:

  • May regulate businesses by establishing rules that businesses must follow in order to operate
  • Generally, may not prohibit businesses outright from being established, or impose standalone requirements on individual businesses.

In some cases, municipalities may prohibit specific types of businesses based on legal decisions or specific legislative authority - for example, municipalities may prohibit shows such as exhibitions or other public performances.

As well, municipalities may prohibit or limit types of business and business activities in various areas of the municipality using other regulatory authorities, such as land use regulation powers (zoning). Municipalities are encouraged to identify and consider all potential implications when developing other regulatory schemes.

Regional districts do not generally have legislated authority to regulate businesses but may receive that power by regulation.

Exercising Authority

A municipality that wishes to exercise its authority to regulate businesses via bylaw must give notice of its intention and provide an opportunity for persons to make representations to the municipal council.

In addition, after adopting a business regulation bylaw, the municipality must make available upon request a statement that explains council's reasons for exercising its authority.

The key to exercising any regulatory powers is the authority for the municipality to establish a system of licenses, permits or approvals, such as business licenses.

Business Licences

Municipalities may require businesses to have a business licence. Municipalities may also suspend or cancel a business licence for failure to comply with specified terms and conditions of the licence, following a hearing. If municipal staff have been delegated licensing authority by municipal council, a person whose license is refused, suspended or cancelled may have council reconsider the matter. Learn more about: