KPA Lawyers – April 17, 2019
Considering how many people enjoy spending time in restaurants and bars in Peel Region, you may have, at some point, thought about starting your own liquor licensed establishment in Mississauga.
If you’re thinking about becoming a first-time applicant for a Liquor Sales License, then read on.
First things first, the Liquor License Act and it’s associated regulations sets out the regulatory regime for alcohol in all of Ontario. The Act is administered by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO).
Second, there are many different types of licenses, such as Special Occasion Permits, Liquor Sales Licenses, Caterer’s Endorsements, etc.
In this article, we’ll focus on Liquor Sales Licenses. In other words, what you would need if you wanted to open a fully licensed bar, restaurant or lounge in Mississauga. However, it’s important to keep in mind that this article is not intended as legal advice, and you should contact a lawyer about applying for a license.
Okay, let’s talk about some restrictions you might not know about.
You cannot apply for a liquor sales license if you are not a business, because only owners of a business can apply for a Liquor Sales Licence. That one seems pretty basic, but read on. Although your business doesn’t necessarily have to focus on the sale and service of food or liquor, you still have to be located in a place that is open to the public. If your business is not open to the public, then you can still quality as a private members business (such as a social club). If your business isn’t registered with the government, you can’t get a license, so make sure you’ve got a Master Business License or Articles of Incorporation.
If you apply for a Liquor Sales Licence, then you have to sell both food and liquor at your business. As you can imagine, this means that you’ll have to contact Mississauga’s health department to ensure that you are in compliance with all applicable food and beverage laws in your city.
Applying for a liquor license isn’t just about your premises or your business itself, it’s also about the owners. Specifically, everyone who has any ownership in the business are subject to a police and financial background check as part of the application process. That includes officers, directors and shareholders if your business is a corporation.
Furthermore, the AGCO won’t provide you with a liquor sales license if you do not obtain a few separate Agency Letters of Approval from the fire department, building department and health department. You’ll also need a Municipal Information Form, completed, signed and dated by a municipal clerk.
You’ll also need a detailed floor plan of your space. Your floor plan must indicate a separate capacity for each proposed licensed area, except ancillary areas. There are three ways to establish the capacity of the premises: either the building department will assign it, the fire department will assign it, or it can be calculated by an architect or professional engineer that you hire.
You might also be wondering about the relevant government fees. You can find those here.
The fee will depend on what you’re trying to do (obviously). For example, your fees might depend on whether the proposed established already has a liquor license, and you are applying for a Transfer, exempt from public notice. On the other hand, if the premises where you are starting your business has never had a liquor license, then you’ll be submitting a New Application (with public notice).
Public notice simply means that details regarding your application will appear on the AGCO’s website, and you’ll be required to post a placard at the physical location where your business is going to operate. The placard will be sent to you by the AGCO.
Keep in mind that the public may object to your application, and these objections have to be resolved before your application can proceed any further. If that happens, then the AGCO will send you a copy of any objections, including the names of the people who objected.
You’ll get a chance to resolve your neighbourhood’s concerns on your own, but if that’s not possible, then the AGCO could schedule a meeting to attempt to resolve the matter. If no resolution is achieved, then a public hearing at the Licence Appeal Tribunal (LAT) will be set.
It’s never a great idea to navigate a highly regulated industry like alcohol alone. You can save yourself a lot of time, money and headache by contacting a liquor license lawyer in Mississauga.