Municipal Alcohol Policy

The City of Hamilton's Municipal Alcohol Policy (PDF 82.6 KB) allows the use of City property for events with alcoholic beverages on site, where the event organizer assumes full responsibility. The Municipal Alcohol Policy, or MAP, is in effect for use of City property by third parties who do not work for or represent the City. It is meant for event organizers to take necessary steps to offer a safe environment for the public where they are serving alcohol at the event.

The Municipal Alcohol Policy requires event organizers to:

  • Be educated about the policy.
  • Prepare for the event.
  • Train their staff and volunteers.
  • Monitor, manage and assume responsibility for the liability and other risks involved with having alcoholic beverages at their event.
  • Have a Special Occasion Permit or sponsoring use of a Caterer’s Endorsement from the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario. This allows event organizers to sell or serve alcohol or have alcohol sold or served on their behalf.

The Municipal Alcohol Policy helps:

  • With how to limit alcohol related problems.
  • Encourage responsible use of City property.
  • Promote low alcohol consumption.
  • Reduce exposure to risk.
  • Minimize the possibly for host liability.

When planning to serve alcohol at a party or event on City property, it is important to know your responsibilities.

Plan

A well-planned event will be more enjoyable for everyone.

  • Start planning at least six months before your event takes place.
  • Check with City staff to find out what applications must be completed.
  • Apply for your Special Occasion Permit.
  • Meet with the Supervisor of the event location to develop your operations plan.
  • Understand your role and responsibilities as the event organizer.

Prepare

Have a safer event by preparing ahead of time.

  • Arrange for $5 million special event liability insurance that names the City of Hamilton as additional insured.
  • Develop a safe transportation strategy to get your guests home safely.
  • Hire event workers with Smart Serve training.
  • Recruit enough event workers to meet the worker-to-guest ratio.
  • Organize training for your event workers. Outline their roles at the event to make sure they follow the Municipal Alcohol Policy.
  • Plan for food to be served at your event.
  • Have paper or plastic cups for serving drinks.
  • Plan to offer a good selection of non-alcoholic drinks.
  • Buy alcohol approved under your Special Occasion Permit from the LCBO or Beer Store, or hire a caterer with a catering endorsement.
  • Have copies of your Special Occasion Permit, event worker Smart Serve cards, rental permit and insurance certificate at the event.

Protect

The event organizer is responsible for following the law and conditions of the Municipal Alcohol Policy. These steps can help protect everyone.

  • Make sure event workers are visible. They should wear identifiable clothing or identification.
  • Post necessary signage at your event.
  • Do not allow intoxicated people entry.
  • Check identification and accept only government-issued photo identification.
  • Serve only standard drinks. These are:
    • 12 oz. (341 mL)bottle of 5% beer
    • 5 oz. (142 mL) glass of 12% wine
    • 1 1/2 oz. (43 mL) shot of 40% spirits
  • You and your event workers cannot consume alcohol during the event.
  • Follow the rules outlined on page 15 of the Municipal Alcohol Policy (PDF 82.6kB), including: no "last call" and serving a maximum of two drinks at a time.
  • Offer a selection of food at the event such as sandwiches or a light meal.

There are several steps you need to take if you plan to sell or serve alcohol for special occasions:

  1. Complete the City of Hamilton In-House application form (PDF, 304 KB). The City requires a minimum of 30 days notice for all events.
  2. Complete an application for a Special Occasion Permit. The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario, or AGCO, issues Special Occasion Permits through a local LCBO retail store. 
  3. Email your completed In-House application form to liquorlicense@hamilton.ca.The Liquor Licence Facilitator will give your application to Hamilton Police Services, Hamilton Fire Prevention, Hamilton Public Health Services and Hamilton Building Department.
  4. Take your completed Special Occasion Permit application, a copy of your City of Hamilton In-House application and applicable fees to your local LCBO store based on timelines set by the AGCO.

The City of Hamilton does not issue “Letters of Non-Objection” for Special Occasion Permit applications.

If a not-for-profit organization or a catering company is not organizing your event, you may need a Municipal Significance designation to apply.

You must make sure that you apply for permits through the Building Department for any tents or structures.

The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario issues temporary extensions for 14 days or less where licensed premises can extend their liquor sales licence to adjacent areas for special events.

The application to the AGCO requires a Letter of Non-Objection from the City of Hamilton stating that there is no objection to the application. This requires a minimum of 30 days to process and prepare.

You can get this letter by following these steps:

  1. Complete the City of Hamilton In-House application form (PDF, 304 KB)
  2. Create a drawing of the extension area including rough dimensions
  3. Provide all documents on one of two ways: 
    By email: liquorlicense@hamilton.ca
    In-person: City Hall, One Stop Centre, 71 Main Street West, 1st Floor, Hamilton
  4. Pay the application fee of $179 at City Hall, One Stop Centre, 71 Main Street West, 1st Floor, Hamilton.
    You must pay your fees before we can issue the Letter of Non-Objection.

The Liquor License Facilitator will circulate your application to all appropriate departments. The City will give you a Letter of Non-Objection when all departments are satisfied with zoning, by-law and regulation reviews. You can give a copy of the In-House Application Form to the AGCO as proof of notification to the City of Hamilton.

For Liquor License questions contact:

There are several steps you need to take if you plan to sell or serve alcohol in a licensed establishment:

  1. Complete the Liquor Licence application form (PDF, 607 KB) for new establishments, patios or changes to an existing licence. The City requires a minimum of 15 business days to circulate for comments.
  2. Complete an application for a Municipal Information Form (PDF, 99 KB). The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario, or AGCO, issues all liquor license, with comments from several City departments which are received through this application process.
  3. Submit your completed forms by email to liquorlicense@hamilton.ca.The Liquor Licence Facilitator will circulate your application to Hamilton Police Services, Hamilton Fire Prevention, Hamilton Public Health Services and Hamilton Building Department, Hamilton Roads Division as well as the Ward Councillor.
  4. Once all comments have been received (15 business days) the Liquor application and comments will be emailed to the applicant as well as the AGCO. Note: it is the responsibility of the applicant to contact the AGCO and make any and all additional application through their office.

Approvals will not be granted until any outstanding work order have been completed on the property.

You must make sure that you apply for permits through the Building Department for any tents or structures. Find out more information about building permits.

Contact us

Licensing - One Stop
71 Main Street West, 1st Floor
Hamilton, Ontario
Phone: 905-546-2782 (option 3)
Email: liquorlicense@hamilton.ca