Home-Based Businesses

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Advances in technology, societal and economic changes, in addition to flexible work schedules, have enabled people to work from their homes.  Home-based businesses constitute a growing trend and local residents need to gain an understanding of the municipal requirements of starting such a business.   In the Town of Georgina, home-based businesses are known as “home occupations”.   Home occupations are permitted within a variety of residential zone categories subject to compliance with certain criteria.  The use must occur “within” the home (i.e. they cannot be located in an attached garage or detached structure like a shed) and they can only occupy a limited amount of floor space.  Depending on the amount of space being occupied by the use, additional on-site parking may need to be provided.  Limited signage is also permitted, but a home occupation must clearly be secondary to the residential use of the property and not change the residential character of the house.  Home occupation uses cannot create or become a public nuisance, particularly in terms of traffic, parking, noise, noxious odours or the emission of smoke.    


A “home occupation” is defined as an occupation conducted for gain or profit as an accessory use within a dwelling pursuant to the provisions of Zoning By-law No. 500, as amended.  A clinic, day nursery, nursing home, tea room and an animal hospital are deemed not to be home occupation uses.  Home occupations are essentially small scale home-based businesses allowing people to work from their homes while not detracting from the residential character of the neighbourhood in which they live.  It should be noted that the retail sale of any goods or wares shall not be permitted as a primary home occupation use.  Note:  any home-based business involving the handling or preparation of food must be in compliance with the Ontario Food Premises Regulation.  Compliance with this Regulation is determined by the Regional Municipality of York, Public Health Branch, Community and Health Services Department – (Phone – 1-877-464-9675).


A "home industry" is defined as a small scale industrial use in a non-residential building, which is operated as a secondary use to a single family dwelling on the same lot. A home industry use may include a carpentry shop, a metal working shop, a plumbing shop, an electrical shop, a small engine repair shop, a welding shop, a storage building for school buses, boats, snowmobiles or a similar industrial use. The retail sale of any goods or wares shall not be permitted as a primary home industry use. 


Home occupations are only allowed in the following zone categories:
  • Low Density Urban Residential (R1) zone
  • Low Density Urban Residential (R2) zone (but only if within a single family or linked dwelling)
  • Residential (R) zone
  • Estate Residential (ER) zone
  • Airfield (A) zone
  • Transitional (T) zone
  • Rural (RU) zone
Note: In accordance with Section 5.50(e) of Zoning By-law No. 500, as amended, “a home occupation 
shall only be permitted within one unit of a single family dwelling containing an accessory apartment.


Home Industry is permitted in the following zone category:

  • Rural (RU) zone


No home industry shall be permitted in any zone unless home industry is a permitted use and conforms to the following provisions;

(a) not more than three persons, other than the resident occupant or his/her family, shall be employed in such home industry;

(b) there shall be no external display or advertising, other than a legal sign, to indicate to persons outside, that any part of the lot is being used for home industry purposes;

(c) parking is provided in accordance with Section 5.28;

(d) the floor area shall not exceed 190 square metres;

(e) such home industry is clearly secondary to the main use of the property and does not create or become a public nuisance, particularly in regard to traffic, parking, noxious odours or emissions of smoke;

(f) the owner has been issued a certificate of occupancy by the Town;


Home occupations must comply, and continue to comply, with the provisions listed below during the time the home-based business is in operation:
(a) members of the family residing in the dwelling unit operate the home occupation;
(b) no person, other than a member of the family, is engaged in canvassing, delivering or as a go-
  between in distributing merchandise to customers;
(c) no more than two persons not resident in the dwelling shall be employed;
(d) there is no display visible from outside the premises, other than a legal sign, to indicate that 
any part of the dwelling house, unit or lot is being used for a purpose other than residential;
(e) such home occupation is clearly secondary to the main residential use and does not change 
the residential character of the dwelling nor create or become a public nuisance, particularly in 
regard to traffic, parking, noise, noxious odours or emission of smoke (Note: if the use becomes a
public nuisance by creating traffic problems or parking deficiencies, the use must cease)
(f) such home occupation does not interfere with television or radio reception;
(g) not more than 25% of the residential floor area of the dwelling is used for the purpose of home 
  occupation uses;
(i) the operation of a personal service shop shall be limited to one operator at any one time;
(j) the owner has been issued a certificate of occupancy by the Town – (Note: Certificate of Occupancy in this section means that the dwelling is habitable and that the Town has no objection to it being occupied)


(a) LOT FRONTAGE (MINIMUM)                60 metres
(b) LOT AREA (MINIMUM)                 8,000 sq metres
(c) FRONT YARD (MINIMUM)                     15 metres
-    provided that a portable seasonal farm produce sales outlet is permitted in the front yard during the season of its produce.
(d) EXTERIOR SIDE YARD (MINIMUM)    15 metres 
-    provided that a portable seasonal farm produce sales outlet is permitted in the exterior side yard during the season of its produce.
(e) REAR YARD (MINIMUM)                         9 metres 
(f) INTERIOR SIDE YARD (MINIMUM)       9 metres 


On-site parking is based on the amount of residential floor space being devoted to the home occupation use at a ratio of 3.5 spaces per 95 sq. m. of floor area.  If a home occupation occupies less than 13.5 sq. m. (145.3 sq. ft.) of floor space, then no additional parking needs to be provided. If a home occupation requires additional parking, it must be provided in addition to the required parking for the home and it cannot be located within the minimum front or exterior side yard areas or on the street. Notwithstanding the above, where a single family dwelling contains an accessory apartment and a home occupation is proposed in one of the units, one additional parking space is required to be provided, regardless of the floor area occupied and such additional parking space may be located within the front or exterior side yard (but not on the street). The size of the parking spaces must also comply with the dimension requirements of the Zoning By-law.  With respect to signage, while a “legal sign” under Item (d) above does not require a permit from the Town, such signage must comply with the relevant provisions of the Town’s Sign By-law (Refer to Regulatory By-Laws). Please contact the Municipal Law Enforcement Division at Ext. 2279 or 2373 for further information..


Q Can I establish a home occupation in my attached garage or in my backyard shed?
A No.  A home occupation can only occur within the confines of the residential dwelling and not 
in an attached garage or detached accessory structure.
Q Can a home occupation be established in my basement?
A –   Yes, but it is important to understand how residential floor area is determined if only 25% of the floor area can be used.  Residential floor area is the total floor area of a dwelling unit above grade (i.e. include all floors) plus a maximum of 25% of any part of a basement that is finished.  For example, if a 2-storey dwelling contains 1,000 sq. ft. per level and has a fully finished basement of 1,000 sq. ft., the total residential floor area of the home would equal 1,000 + 1,000 + 250 (25% of 1,000) = 2,250 square feet.  A home occupation could be established in this dwelling having a maximum size of 562.5 sq. ft. (being 25% of 2,250 sq. ft.).  If the basement in the home was completely unfinished, the total residential floor area of the dwelling would be 2,000 sq. ft. (basement not included).  In this case, a home occupation could establish with a maximum size of 500 sq. ft.  Home occupations can be located within the finished main or second floor, or, within a finished or unfinished basement.  Please keep in mind that the size of a home occupation dictates whether additional on-site parking will be required.      
Q If I don’t have any customers coming to my home, do I need to provide additional parking?
A –   As outlined above, the requirement for providing additional parking is based solely on the amount of floor space being used and whether there is an accessory apartment within the home. As noted above, if the home occupation occupies less than 13.5 sq. m. (145.3 sq. ft.) then no
additional parking will be required. Unless the home also contains an accessory apartment, in which case, one additional parking space would be required.
Q Can I put up a sign at the end of my driveway advertizing the business?
A No. While a small legal sign is allowed, the sign must be located on the property in 
accordance with the Town’s Sign By-law, administered through the Municipal Law Enforcement
Q If I operate a contractor’s office from my home, can I store materials on the property and park 
my business vehicle at home?
A –   No.  Neither the indoor (i.e. garage or shed) or outdoor storage of materials is allowed on the 
property. Further, there are provisions in the Town’s Zoning By-law regulating the parking of 
commercial motor vehicles in residential areas.  Additional information can be obtained by
contacting the Zoning Examiners listed below.
Q If I live at one address but would like to establish my business at another location in a second 
home that I own, is this possible?
A –   No.  A person operating a home occupation must live in the dwelling where the use is 
occurring. While up to two (2) non-resident employees can work in a home occupation, only 
members of the resident family can be involved in the canvassing, delivery and distribution of 


If you have any further questions or inquiries about establishing a home occupation in the Town of Georgina, please contact Michael Davy, Zoning Examiner at Ext. 2282 or by email at mdavy@georgina.ca (for any property located south of Old Homestead Road) – or – Jeremy Liscoumb, Zoning Examiner at Ext. 2277 or by email at jliscoumb@georgina.ca  (for any property located north of Old Homestead Road)