City of Hamilton - Planning & Economic Development
Before you open your business – particularly BEFORE you sign a lease or buy a property – you need to make sure your type of business can operate at that location. The way you determine if you can open or expand at a certain location is to understand what the property is zoned (allows) and if there are any additional requirements (e.g. parking, how far the building needs to be from the road etc.).
What is Zoning?
- How land can be used;
- Where buildings and other structures can be located;
- Types of buildings (commercial, industrial, residential) that are permitted at a particular address; and
- How the property may be used (lot sizes and dimensions, parking requirements, building heights, and distance from the street).
How do I know if my business can open at a Specific Address?You need to apply for a Zoning Verification, which will tell you if the zoning permits your proposed business and what other requirements you’ll need to follow. A Zoning Verification will also provide you with the required documentation to:
Completing a Zoning Verification application is usually one of the first steps before opening your business.
What if you’re determining what property might be best before you purchase or sign a lease - do you have to apply for a Zoning Verification for each address?
If you are just in the research stage and want to know if your potential business would work in a few different locations you can speak with staff at the One Stop for Business on the first floor of City Hall. You can also call them at 905-540-6400 or email email@example.com. It’s best if you provide specific addresses of properties you are interested in. If you’d like to review a list of properties that are for sale or lease by type and size (square feet) you can use our Site Selector Tool.
Why is it important to get a Zoning Verification from the City before purchasing or leasing?
You want to be sure the business that you want to open is permitted and what else you might need (i.e. parking spaces) before you make a financial investment. Time is money and you’ll want to know how long it might take and how much money it might cost before you open or expand your business, especially if you want to change the zoning to allow your particular use.
Zoning Verifications, or what’s also known as a Property Report, will not only tell you if your business can open or expand at a specific location it will also let you know:
What type of information should a business owner provide in the application form?
- Details of the proposed use – be as specific as possible;
- Proposed address; and
- Site plan drawing (which for Zoning Verification is a bird's eye view of the property).
Why is is so important to include all these details?
The more specific you are in your application; the more detailed response you will receive back. For example, if you want to open an office you should be specific as to what type of office (is it law firm, consulting, or health) because there are different requirements you will need to meet, which will be listed in the response you get back. Another example would be a restaurant. There are different requirements for take-out counters versus restaurants with drive throughs versus eat-in restaurants etc. The type of restaurant and the capacity (i.e. number of seats in your restaurant) will potentially impact the number of parking spaces you will need. It’s not enough just to know if the zoning will permit your potential business you need to make sure the location and property type will meet the regulations.
How do I apply for a Zoning Verification?
How and where you apply depends on if your business needs to be licensed. If your business needs to be licensed with the City of Hamilton it’s best if you submit your Zoning Verification application at the same time as your Business Licence application. For businesses that need to be licensed, licences and Zoning Verification requests are processed at two different locations depending on which category your business falls under. Please see below for the category and corresponding location:
Goods/Used Goods and Services
Places of Amusement
Hamilton City Hall
71 Main Street West, 1st floor
Hamilton, ON, L8P 4Y5
Food Service Vehicles
Mobile (i.e. Taxi Cab, Tow Truck)
Adult Services Entertainment Establishment
Municipal Law Enforcement (MLE) Licensing & Permits Office
Hamilton City Centre
77 James Street North, Main Floor Suite 250
Hamilton, ON, L8R 2K3
What methods of payment do you accept?
We accept Cash, Cheques, and Interac Direct Payment when paying at City Hall and VISA or MasterCard if you are paying online.
Where else can I find informatin about opening a business?
Visit One Stop for Business and meet with knowledgeable staff who will take you through the processes step-by-step, provide feedback on your business plan, and direct to the right resources, contacts, workshops and seminars to help move your business forward faster and more efficiently.
*Please Note: Documents are provided in Adobe Acrobat (PDF) format. If you do not already have the Acrobat Reader installed, please visit the Adobe Web Site and download this free reader application. If you are experiencing difficulty opening the PDF files, right click on the linked text and select open in new window.
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71 Main Street West (3rd Floor)