Enterprise Centres

Enterprise centres provide one-stop information services for individuals looking to start a small business and for small businesses looking to expand. Information on topics such as registering a business, obtaining required permits, and available funding sources is provided. In addition, business plan reviews and information seminars are offered to prospective entrepreneurs. Funding for these centres is provided by Canada Business Ontario, a partnership between the governments of Canada and Ontario. There are currently two enterprise centres in Niagara, one in St. Catharines and one in Niagara Falls.

Enterprise Centre St. Catharines
1 St. Paul St, 3rd Floor, Suite A301
St. Catharines ON  L2R 7L2
905-688-5601 ext 1767

Niagara Falls Area Small Business Enterprise Centre
4310 Queen St, 2nd Floor
Niagara Falls ON  L2E 6X5
905-356-7521 ext 5001

Supplementary information for entrepreneurs may also be found online at the Canada Business Ontario website, www.cbo-eco.ca, or through the telephone at 1-888-745-8888. 


The Niagara Business & Innovation Fund

The Niagara Business & Innovation Fund is a non-profit corporation aimed at encouraging local entrepreneurship and economic development using a grassroots approach.

The NBIF invests loan and equity capital in existing, emerging, innovative and start up enterprises in Niagara, Canada.    The Fund is available to qualifying applicants in virtually every sector of the economy.   We invest in people with good ideas who can create jobs, economic impact and contribute to the growth of Niagara.

Niagara Business & Innovation Fund
55 Clarence Street
P.O. Box 519
Port Colborne ON  L3K 5X7



Small & Home Based Businesses - Start Up Information

It is important to know exactly what you need to do in order to make your business legal in Port Colborne.  It can be detrimental and costly if you start off with a bad foundation and try to skip these processes.  Make the right choices, become informed and give your business the solid ground it needs to grow and prosper for many years.  The City of Port Colborne has put together a brochure providing basic information regarding the permits, licences and processes your small business may need to work through before opening.

Before starting your small business you should speak with to the following City Divisions:

Planning Division

Why Planning?

Before you can start your small or home based business you should speak with the Planning Division to make sure the property and your business meet the City's Official Plan and Zoning requirements.

Evan Acs, Planner
Ph: 905-835-2900 ext 202
Email: Planner

Building Division

Why Building?

You need to speak with the Building Division (Chief Building Official) if you are doing any type of internal or external renovations to determine your need for a building permit or to verify if you will need a Change of Use permit.  Even if you are not proposing any changes or construction to a building, you still need to determine if a Change of Use permit is necessary.  This process ensures that the building will meet the requirements of the Ontario Building Code for the new occupancy.  Where health and safety requirements are more restrictive than the existing requirements it may mean possible upgrades will be necessary.  Contact the Lyle Merritt for more information.

Todd Rogers, Chief Building Official
Ph: 905-835-2900 ext 201
Email: CBO

Clerks Departement

Why Licensing?

If your business falls into any of the following categories: Trailer Camp, Garage (mechanic), Lodging House or Hawker/Peddler you must speak with the Licensing Clerk to acquire the appropriate license.  If you are unsure whether your potential business falls under any of these categories you can contact Sue McIntyre, Licensing Clerk.

Donny D'Innocenzo, Licensing Clerk
Ph: 905-835-2900 ext 121
Email: License Clerk

Fire Services

Additionally, you should contact fire services to ensure that your building is up to the appropriate fire standards to ensure the safety of your patrons, employees and business.

Mike Bendia, Fire Prevention Officer
Ph: 905-835-2900 ext 402
Email: FPO

Economic Development Division

For general assistance, please contact the Economic Development Office.

Economic Development Officer
Ph: 905-835-2900 ext 502
Email: EDO

**The City of Port Colborne is known to be a fertile ground where small and home based businesses can grow and prosper.  Small businesses not only add to Port Colborne's already diverse and growing economy but also to its historical and social roots of innovative entrepreneurship.  If you have any questions about starting up your small business, please contact any of the above noted individuals and they would be happy to help you ensure your business gets started on the right foot! **



Home Business Basics

The City of Port Colborne supports the entrepreneurial spirit and small business through the Home Occupation section of the Zoning By-law that recognizes the needs of business, balanced against the needs of the community. Below you'll find frequently asked questions about operating a home-based business.

To read the full Home Occupation provisions in the Zoning By-law, click here. Information on Home Occupations can be found in section 4.10 (iii) on page 18.

What is a home based business?

An occupation or business conducted for profit within a dwelling by a permanent resident of the dwelling.

Do I need to register my home occupation or require a business licence?

No person shall operate a home occupation in the City of Port Colborne until the home occupation has been registered by the Clerk of the City of Port Colborne. Certain types of home businesses also require a licence. For more information contact the Licensing Clerk at 905-835-2900 ext. 121.

The Regional Municipality of Niagara's Public Health Department also inspects certain types of businesses. These include personal services such as hair salons, nail and pedicure salons, tattoo parlours, and tanning salons, day nurseries (with five or more children), food preparation for public consumption such as a caterer or farmer's market vendors, group homes, and retirement homes. Contact the Public Health department directly at 1-888-505-6074 ext. 7272.

What is the maximum space a business can occupy in the home?

Home occupations can use the lesser of 25 percent of the total floor area, or 23 sq m (247sqft). This rule does not apply to private home day cares or bed-and-breakfast establishments. In certain instances, your home-based business may require changes to your dwelling to meet Ontario's building code and fire regulations. It is advised that the City's Chief Building Official be consulted with on every proposal for a home-based business. Contact the Chief Building Official at 905-835-2900 ext. 201.

What about outdoor use?

The By-law does not permit outdoor use, including garages, carports, and accessory buildings. Garages and accessory buildings may be used for storage related to the home occupation so long as it does not exceed the maximum space permitted for a home occupation.

Can I have any employees in my home?

You are allowed a maximum of one employee from outside the home. The home occupation must be operated by the resident of the dwelling.

Is there a restriction on the number of clients I can have in my home at one time?

You are allowed up to two clients in a dwelling at one time for treatment or service. For instructional activities, up to three students are permitted at one time. Private home day care may have up to five children present at one time. There is no restriction on the number of guests for bed and breakfast establishments; however the number of guest rooms is limited to three.

What about deliveries?

Deliveries are limited to vehicles typically employed in residential deliveries.

What sort of signage am I allowed and will I need a permit? 

A single, unlit sign no greater than 0.37 sq m (3.9 sqft) in size is permitted identifying only the name of the home occupation. The sign may be 0.74 sq m (7.9 sqft) if there is more than one home occupation in the dwelling. A building permit is required and restrictions and regulations apply to placement of the sign on the property. For more information, contact the Planner at 905-835-2900 x202.

How much parking do I need?

Stacked, on-site parking is permitted on the dwelling's driveway. Parking on the yard is not permitted. One off-street parking space must be provided for the home occupation in addition to the parking space(s) that is required for the dwelling. For bed and breakfast establishments, one off-street parking space must be provided per guest room. All off-street and on-street parking associated with a home occupation must comply with the City's Zoning and Parking By-laws.

I want to renovate my home to accommodate my business. Will I need a permit? 

If you are making structural changes, finishing your basement, or installing plumbing for sinks or washrooms, you will require a building permit. For more information contact the Chief Building Official at 905-835-2900 ext. 201.

Are there any restrictions on the type of dwelling used for a business?

Yes. There are certain businesses that can only be operated from a single detached dwelling. Contact the Planner at 905-835-2900 ext. 202 to ensure your home business use is permitted under the City's zoning regulations. Single detached dwellings is the only residential property type that permit studios, physical fitness activities, private home day care, barber or hair dresser, and bed and breakfast establishments.

What kinds of businesses cannot be run from home?

Businesses including the salvage, repair, storage, maintenance, or sales of vehicles, the sale, repair, maintenance, or servicing of vehicle engines or parts, auto body repair or auto painting/detailing, vehicle parts or accessory installations, including audio, are not permitted as home businesses. In addition, the following home occupations are not permitted:

adult entertainment or body rub parlour
animal care or grooming
animal hospital or shelter
business offices
contractor's yard
dating/escort service
funeral home or parlour
heavy machinery repair, sales, or service
kennel/animal boarding service
mechanical repair
medical office, clinic, or treatment facility
motor repair or rebuilding
noxious uses pursuant to subsection 4.13 of the zoning by-law
place of amusement or entertainment
public bath/whirlpool
refreshment rooms
restaurant (eat-in, take-out, and/or fast food)
retail store
schools (public or private)
scientific or medical laboratory
sheet metal shops
taxi service
vehicle towing
veterinarian clinic