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Home-Based Businesses

A home-based business (HBB) is defined as an accessory business or occupation use conducted for gain or profit in a dwelling unit by a resident of that dwelling unit which is clearly subordinate to the primary residential use of that unit, and which does not create a public nuisance or adverse affect on the abutting lands and/or surrounding community; (please refer to Appendix for definitions of bold terms used).

Who can operate a Home-Based Business?

The resident referred to in the definition above must be either a sole proprietor, partner, shareholder, or officer of the company operating the Home-Based Business, or an employee who uses the dwelling unit as their principal place of business.  

What are the rules for Home-Based Businesses?

The maximum combined floor area that all Home-Based Businesses within one dwelling unit may occupy is 25% of the finished floor area of that dwelling unit to a maximum of 50 square metres.

No use, storage, or activity relating to a Home-Based Business is permitted in an accessory building or structure.

No use or activity relating to a Home-Based Business is permitted in a garage, however, limited storage relating to a Home-Based Business is permitted to the extent that it does not prevent the parking of the number of vehicles the garage was designed to accommodate.

No outdoor storage or visible display relating to a Home-Based Business is permitted.

All vehicle parking associated with a Home-Based Business must be located on the lot upon which the Home-Based Business is operated, except for customer or client parking, and all vehicle parking must be in compliance with the applicable parking provisions.

External changes or alterations required for or relating to a Home-Based Business which would change the overall residential character of the dwelling are not permitted.

The selling of products assembled or developed on the premises is a permitted use in a Home-Based Business, and the sale and distribution of catalogue items is a permitted use in a Home-Based Business provided that no catalogue items are stored on the premises.

In a licenced Home-Based Business, there shall be no pick-up or delivery associated with the Home-Based Business to the dwelling unit between 8:00 pm and 6:30 am.

What You Need To Know

Are there many types of business that may not operate as a Home-Based Business?

The following specific uses are prohibited in a Home-Based Business:

 a) adult entertainment parlour
 b) animal hospital/veterinarian clinic
 c) commercial-recreational establishment
 d) dating/escort service
 e) funeral home or parlour
 f) heavy machinery repair, sales, service
 g) kennel/animal boarding service
 h) place of amusement or entertainment
 i) place of assembly
 j) public bath/whirlpool
 k) restaurant (any type of eating/drinking establishment)
 l) retail store
 m) taxi service
 n) vehicle (including vehicle audio repair, sales, service, installations)
 o) warehousing
 p) wholesaling

May I erect a sign for my Home-Based Business?

No sign shall be erected, placed, maintained, or altered on a lot relating to a Home-Based Business, except in accordance with the following rules:

a) 1 sign per lot for identification purposes may be located on an exterior wall or door of the dwelling unit in which any Home-Based Business is operated.

b) A Home-Based Business identification sign shall not be internally-illuminated.

c) Despite (a) above, in an apartment building, a Home-Based Business identification sign may be located only on an interior wall or interior door of the apartment building, and there shall be a maximum of 1 sign for each dwelling unit located within the apartment building.

d) Despite subsection (a) above, where regular mail to the dwelling unit is deposited in a mailbox located on the lot in the immediate vicinity of the lot's street frontage, a Home-Based Business identification sign may be located on or attached to the mailbox rather than on the dwelling unit.

e) The maximum surface area of a Home-Based Business identification sign shall not exceed 0.2 square meters.

f) A separate sign application and permit is not required for a Home-Based Business identification sign.

Do I need a licence for my Home-Based Business?

Yes. To operate, or permit the operation of, a Home-Based Business licence must be obtained and must remain in good standing.

How do I get a Home-Based Business licence?

To obtain a Home-Based Busines licence, the applicant shall:

1) Submit to the City Clerk a completed application form provided by the City of Pickering for each business operated from that dwelling unit.

2) Pay an annual, non-refundable and non-transferable application fee of $50.00 per business.

3) Demonstrate compliance with the relevant provisions of all applicable municipal by-laws, provincial policies and regulations, and federal laws.

The City Clerk will issue a licence for a Home-Based Business which conforms to the relevant municipal by-laws based on the information made available by the applicant on the application form, and based on a site inspection where, in the discretion of the City Clerk, such inspection is determined to be advisable or necessary. 

How long is a Home-Based Business licence valid for?

The term of a Home-Based Business licence is for a period of 1 year from the date of issuance of the licence. A Home-Based Business licence is subject to annual renewal on application, with payment of the applicable fee.

What if my business under-goes changes during the licence's term?

Where, during the term of the licence issued for a Home-Based Business, the applicant proposes to change the nature of the Home-Based Business as licenced, the applicant shall advise the City Clerk of the proposed changes to be made in order that compliance will be maintained.

The City Clerk shall revoke the licence of any Home-Based Business which, at any time after issuance, ceases to meet the requirements of any municipal by-law, or where it is determined that the licence was issued based on false or misleading information.

The City Clerk shall revoke the Home-Based Business licence for any Home-Based Business which is in arrears of assessed business taxes at any time.

Where the City Clerk revokes the licence of a Home-Based Business, notice stating the reason for the revocation shall be provided to the applicant and the insurer in person or by regular postal delivery.

The City Clerk may designate such persons as are necessary to administer this by-law.

Offences and penalties

Any person who contravenes any provision of the Home-Based Business Licensing By-law is guilty of an offence and is liable upon conviction to a fine of not more than $5,000.00 exclusive of costs as authorized by the Provincial Offences Act, Section 61, R.S.O. 1990 c. 400, as amended, except where otherwise expressly provided by law, which shall be recoverable under the provisions of the Provincial Offences Act and all the provisions of the said Act shall apply to any prosecution for any offence under the provisions of this by-law.

Who can I contact to ask more questions about Home-Based Business?

A Municipal By-law Enforcement Officer, the City Clerk, or the Planning & Development Department.

Appendix - Definitions of Bolded Terms

The following prohibited uses are defined as follows:

 a) adult entertainment parlourmeans a building or part of a building in which is provided in pursuance of a trade, calling, business or occupation, services appealing to or designed to appeal to erotic or sexual appetites or inclinations
 b)animal hospital/veterinarian clinicmeans a building or part of a building providing the services of a veterinarian, and facilities for the medical treatment, examination, surgery, diagnosis, grooming, general health care, and observation of domestic animals and birds, but shall not include boarding or lodging
 c)commercial-recreational establishmentmeans a commercial establishment in which indoor recreational facilities such as bowling alleys, miniature golf courses, roller skating rinks, squash courts, swimming pools and other similar indoor recreational facilities are provided and operated for gain or profit, and which may include an arena or stadium, but shall not include a place of amusement or entertainment as defined herein
 d)dating/escort servicemeans a service providing companionship for and by individuals for profit or personal gain
 e)

funeral home or parlour

means a building or part of a building where funerals are conducted and shall be limited to such facilities as chapels, visitation rooms, administrative offices, rooms for the preparation of the deceased, display rooms for the storage of caskets, and garages for hearses and other equipment, but shall not include a single detached dwelling
 f)heavy machinery repairs, sales, servicemeans the service, repair, or sales of machinery or mechanical equipment of an industrial nature
 g)kennel/animal boarding servicesshall mean the keeping, accommodation, or boarding of domestic animals, livestock, or birds
h)place of amusement or entertainmentshall mean a building or part of a building in which facilities are provided for amusement or entertainment purposes, and which may include a billiard room or pool room, a dance hall, a music hall, or a theatre, but shall not include a room or any area used for any video lottery terminal use as governed by the Gaming Services Act, an adult entertainment parlour as defined herein or a body rub parlour as defined in the Municipal Act, R.S.S=O. 1990, Chapter MAS, as amended from time-to-time or any successor thereto.
 i) place of assemblyshall mean a building or part of a building in which facilities are provided for civic, educational, polital, recreational, religious or social meeting purposes and may include facilities for entertainment purposes such as a musical and theatrical performances, but shall not include a place of amusement or entertainment
 j) public bath/whirlpoolshall mean indoor or outdoor premises where people may bathe, swim, or lounge within pools or tanks of water
 k) restaurantmeans any type of eating or drinking establishment where food or drinks are prepared or distributed for consumption on the premises or off the premises
 l) retail store shall mean a building or part of a building in which goods, wares, merchandise, substances, articles or things are stored, kept and offered for retail sale to the public
 m) taxi servicemeans the operation of a service providing taxicab motor vehicles with drivers used for hire for the conveyance of goods and passengers
 n)vehicle (including vehicle audio) repair, sales, service, installationsmeans land or premises where motor vehicles or trailers are repaired, fueled, serviced, painted, kept for sale, rent, lease, or hire, or where motor vehicle parts or accessories are kept or displayed for rent, retail sale, or installation
 o) warehousing

means the housing or storage of goods, wares, merchandise, food-stuffs, substances, articles, or things before wholesale distribution to a retailer

 p) wholesalingmeans the distribution of goods, wares, merchandise, food-stuffs, substances, articles, or things, in large quantities, to a business or retailer for eventual or further distribution, processing, assembly, or retail sale

Adverse effect means:

(a) impairment of the quality of the environment for any use that can be made of it;
(b) injury or damage to property or to plant or animal life;
(c) harm or material discomfort to any person;
(d) impairment of the health of any person;
(e) impairment of the safety of any person;
(f) rendering any property unfit for its existing or permitted use;
(g) loss of enjoyment of normal use of property; and/or
(h) interference with a residential use or conduct of business.

Any use which constitutes a nuisance, or any use which is offensive or obnoxious in any way, but not limiting the generality of the foregoing, any use which creates an adverse effect through the generation of traffic, parking, noise, vibration, dust, fumes, gas, odour, waste, emissions, smoke, glare, radiation, electrical interference, or any use involving the use or storage of hazardous, toxic, or contaminant substances which constitutes a threat to public health and safety, or any combination thereof, is prohibited in a Home-Based Business.

For the purposes of Home-Based Businesses, dwelling unit shall mean a residence that:

  • consists of a self-contained set of rooms located in a building or structure
  • is used as a residential premises
  • contains kitchen and bathroom facilities that are used only by the occupants of the unit
  • is used as a single housekeeping unit, which includes a unit in which no occupant has exclusive possession of any part of the unit
  • has a means of egress to the outside of the building or structure in which it is located, which may be a means of egress through another residential unit

For the purposes of Home-Based Business identification signs, apartment building shall mean a building containing more than 4 dwelling units, each unit having access only from an internal corridor system.