Business Licence Bylaw Renewal

The Business Licence Bylaw  establishes the rules and regulations for granting licences to businesses that meet the City’s criteria for doing business in Edmonton. While there have been several housekeeping amendments since the current bylaw was introduced in 2002, the regulatory framework and needs of businesses have changed significantly over the past two decades and a complete review and update of the bylaw was needed.

Project Status Update

City Council approved the  new Business Licence Bylaw 20002 ​ at the August 16, 2021 City Council meeting (item 7.5). The existing bylaw will be repealed when the new bylaw and associated  fee schedule come into effect on January 17, 2022. Licences issued or renewed under the existing bylaw will continue to be valid until they expire.

Why Did We Review The Rules?

The City Plan, approved by City Council on December 7, 2020, is a bold and innovative land use, policy and infrastructure framework that will guide the City as it grows to a population of two million. A number of initiatives, actions and changes need to work together to realize the vision set out in The City Plan. 

The Business Licence Bylaw Renewal is one of several initiatives aimed at streamlining and simplifying the City’s permitting, licensing and regulatory processes. A new, modern and robust Business Licence Bylaw helps create the conditions for businesses to thrive and prosper as envisioned by The City Plan.

The new Business Licence Bylaw will improve business licensing services for businesses and Edmontonians by:

  1. Providing clear, consistent, and reasonable regulations that are easier for businesses to understand and meet
  2. Adjusting licensing requirements to help reduce barriers for businesses and enhance service delivery
  3. Enabling the City to respond quickly and decisively to new and emerging business types
  4. Improving enforceability of the regulations and alignment with regulatory and enforcement partners to facilitate a more timely and effective response to compliance-related issues

These changes balance streamlining processes with ensuring legislative and safety requirements are addressed. This includes ensuring the City has the ability to mitigate public safety risk factors and can support enforcement efforts if problems with a particular business emerge.

What’s Changing?

Many of the changes associated with the new bylaw will occur behind the scenes, creating efficiencies in how the City processes and issues business licences. However, some of the changes and benefits will be more noticeable to businesses when the new bylaw comes into effect on January 17, 2022.

Summary of Changes
  • One or two-year licence option. For businesses that have to supply additional documentation for renewal, a two-year licence means documents won’t have to be supplied as often. A less expensive 1-10 Travelling and Temporary Sales licence for occasional or short-term vendors will also be available.
  • New and updated licence categories (see below for more details).
  • Simplified  fee schedule , including a reduced number of licence fees.
  • A discount incentive for businesses that renew their licence on time. 
  • Where applicable, the City will verify provincial licensing requirements on behalf of businesses.
  • Simplified application and renewal requirements. For example, businesses required to provide Police Information Checks may not have to provide as many of them, or provide them as often. Businesses that require control plans to address noise and safety/security risks will have the option to review and update existing plans when renewing their licence instead of submitting a new plan as long as there are no significant operational changes. 
  • Changes to operating requirements for certain licence categories (see below for more details). The City will communicate the details of these changes directly to affected businesses.
  • Defined timelines for Fire Rescue Services, EPS and other required regulatory consultations.
  • Clearer, simpler and easier to understand language and better organization to help businesses more easily find what they need.
Licence Category Changes

Some business categories will change, and the category names on a licence may look different.  These changes are to better reflect the types of businesses operating in Edmonton, to be more adaptable to more modern ways of doing business, and to transition existing businesses to the new bylaw as seamlessly as possible. 

View the full list of  category changes .

Operating Requirement Changes

Changes have been made to operating requirements for some types of businesses to help streamline the process for businesses and/or address public safety risk factors. These changes were developed in consultation with regulatory and enforcement agencies and the businesses. Affected businesses will be notified directly of changes to operating requirements that will affect them prior to the bylaw coming into effect on January 17, 2022.

View the full list of  operating requirement changes .

Public Engagement

Members of the business community as well as the City’s regulatory and enforcement partners were given a number of opportunities to provide input on the ​ new Business Licence Bylaw 20002 .

Urban Planning Committee Committee (August 10, 2021)
The  proposed new Business Licence Bylaw and associated fee schedule went to the August 10 Urban Planning Committee (UPC) (item 6.2) for review and feedback. Members of the public were given an opportunity to share their views on the proposed new bylaw directly with members of Council by registering to speak at the UPC meeting or providing a written submission that was shared with UPC and became part of the official meeting record. 

Bylaw Clarity and Organization Survey (February to March 2021)
The business community was invited to provide feedback on the clarity and organization of the draft new bylaw through an online survey, which ran from February 16-March 5, 2021. The  engagement findings were used to refine the proposed new bylaw to ensure it is as easy as possible to use and understand before it advances to the Urban Planning Committee and City Council.

Business Licence Requirements (June 2019 to January 2020)
The City engaged with regulatory and enforcement partners, businesses and business associations on the licensing requirements for drinking establishments, scrap metal recyclers, massage therapists, and body rub centres as many of the challenges identified with the current bylaw involve licensing of these types of businesses. Feedback was gathered through round table discussions and telephone interviews.

Bylaw Framework and Fee Structure (January to April 2019)
Business owners and business associations were invited to provide feedback on initial recommendations, which included some promising licensing practices identified through a review of business licence programs of 10 other Canadian municipalities. Feedback was gathered through a combination of an online survey, facilitated workshops, and focus groups and was used to refine the general framework and fee structure of the proposed bylaw.

Bylaw Challenges and Gaps (September to December of 2018)
The City engaged with enforcement and regulatory partners, such as police, municipal enforcement, zoning, safety codes, and Fire Rescue Services, and surveyed Edmonton business owners to help compile and validate a list of gaps in the current licensing framework and identify potential areas for improvement. 

Next Steps

City Council approved the new Business Licence Bylaw at the August 16, 2021 City Council meeting (item 7.5).  The existing bylaw will be repealed when the new bylaw and associated fee schedule come into effect on January 17, 2022. Licences issued or renewed under the existing bylaw will continue to be valid until they expire.

The City is preparing for implementation of the new bylaw in January.  This includes updates to online licensing information, services, and forms, and notifying affected businesses of the upcoming changes.

While many features of the bylaw reduce unnecessary barriers for businesses and support a more equitable approach to licensing requirements, continued work is needed to ensure underrepresented stakeholders are considered and addressed. The City will apply GBA+ analysis to its ongoing review of business processes, policies, procedures and regular maintenance of the bylaw.

Per the direction of UPC at the August 10, 2021 meeting, the City will undertake further work in 2022 to engage with Body Rub Centre practitioners to address concerns raised regarding the collection of personal information. Potential future bylaw changes will be brought forward accordingly.

The City is also committed to working with Edmonton Police Services throughout 2022 to identify opportunities to address concerns specifically relating to liquor store sales and theft. This work will require engagement with industry and patrons, and a GBA+ lens to potential regulations. This work will be captured in the annual work plan, and if required, through the budgeting process.