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MUNICIPAL REGULATION OF BUSINESSES

By KARANDEEP LIDDER, ASSOCIATE LAWYER

The Municipal Act, 2001 S.O. 2001, c. 25 gives municipalities broad powers to pass bylaws to govern activities within their jurisdiction and establish practices and procedures for the enforcement and prosecution of infractions. Municipalities have fairly expansive powers to regulate a wide range of businesses and business activities. The City of Toronto alone has thousands of bylaws which impact businesses and pass several more each year.

The ability of each municipality to pass their own bylaws and create their own practices and procedures can lead to variance across the province. What may be allowed in one city or town may not be in the next. How a similar bylaw infraction in one city or town is dealt with may also differ between municipalities. This can create issues for a business trying to operate multiple locations or attempting to relocate.

The single biggest investment most businesses must make is property. This is often a major decision that can have significant repercussions for the success of any business venture. As the saying goes, ‘location, location, location.’ However, choosing the right location can be made difficult by restrictions on property use as contained in various municipal bylaws. Commercial leases often contain provisions requiring lessees to adhere to any such bylaws and regulations in using the leased premises and may treat contraventions thereof as a potential breach of lease. A business should therefore know which bylaws and regulations apply to their operations.

Municipal councils and councillors also have significant influence over the location of certain types of businesses. For example, local councillors will often provide their opinion on proposed locations for restaurants, bars and other entertainment establishments. Their resistance to an establishment operating in a particular area can be a significant factor in having a liquor license denied. Local councillors can also suggest restrictions on how such businesses operate, for example requesting limits on the size and capacity limits for outdoor patios or the hours during which patrons may access the patio.

A significant issue that often emerges is zoning bylaws restricting where certain businesses may operate. Many municipalities regulate where business operations may be carried out or in which types of buildings. For example, many people starting out and looking to grow their businesses gradually often begin their business operations in their homes. Products are stored in garages, client meetings take place in living rooms, and services are rendered from home offices. However, a municipality might have zoning bylaws in place restricting such operations in residential areas. As a result, operating a business out of one’s home can lead to regulatory scrutiny which in turn may result in bylaw infractions and fines.

Licensing, food safety inspections, building code inspections, among several other regulatory concerns may also impact business operations.

The lawyers at Chand Snider LLP have extensive experience dealing with municipal inspections and investigations, municipal licensing bodies, the Licence Appeal Tribunal, and various other agencies and boards that your business might be forced to deal with. Our expertise in administrative and regulatory law allows us to represent you effectively.

The lawyers at Chand Snider LLP can also provide legal opinions on how municipal bylaws and regulations may impact your business plans and how infractions may be prevented. We can also assist you in obtaining the necessary licenses and permits for your business venture.

Whether you are dealing with a regulatory charge or bylaw infraction, or looking to prevent such a scenario altogether, call the lawyers at Chand Snider LLP at 416-583-2377.

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