Food Production Businesses

Small-scale commercial urban food production is allowed in the City of Victoria to help improve community access to healthy and local food and provide local economic opportunities.

In Victoria, small-scale commercial urban food production:

  • Produces edible and non-edible products for sale, including raw, unprocessed fruits and vegetables, flowers, herbs, fiber, seeds, nuts, seedlings, mushrooms, plant cuttings, eggs and honey.
  • Involves many different activities, including cultivation, harvesting, sorting, keeping, cleaning and packaging.
  • Does not include products regulated by the Controlled Drug and Substances Act (e.g. cannabis)

Getting Started

Here are some resources to learn about applicable City regulations and find tips and resources to help your urban food production business foster positive neighborhood relationships:

Contact the City with any questions:

  • Visit the Business Hub at City Hall or contact the Business Ambassador at bizhub@victoria.ca or 250.361.0629
  • The Business Ambassador is available to walk you through the details of opening a small-scale commercial urban food production business step-by-step

Step 1: Learn what you can produce

Products of small-scale commercial urban food production are limited to:

  • Raw, unprocessed fruits, vegetables and mushrooms
  • Flowers
  • Herbs
  • Fiber
  • Seeds
  • Nuts
  • Seedlings and plant cuttings
  • Eggs
  • Honey

If you want to sell something other than these products, your business does not fall in the small-scale commercial urban food production category. Please contact the Business Hub at bizhub@victoria.ca or 250.361.0629 to help identify your next steps.

Step 2: Decide where you want to sell your products

Products can be sold at a food stand in the front yard of the property where they are produced. If the zoning allows, it may also be possible to sell products in an on-site restaurant, shop or other food related business. Products can also be sold off-site at farmers markets, restaurants, grocery stores, and other approved commercial outlets.

To sell eggs and honey to Food Premises, you will need to obtain approval from Island Health. Call 250.519.3401 or email gateway_office@viha.ca for more information.

Please note the sale of goods is not permitted on City property except for special circumstances.

Step 3: Find a site

Urban food production is permitted in all City zones. You do not have to live on the site where urban food production takes place. Sites can include vacant lots, rooftops, and residential yards.

Commercial urban food production operations are not required to obtain a development permit for landscaping (the alteration of land), unless the installation is being constructed as part of a building, structure, or other landscape features that otherwise would require a development permit (e.g. a new multi-unit or a new commercial building).

For more information on Development Permits, visit the Development Services website or contact us at 250.361.0382.

Step 4: Determine if you need a permit for your structure

Urban food production activities may involve the building, modification or maintenance of infrastructure such as greenhouses, walk-in coolers, root cellars, tool sheds, covered areas, coops, or other. Depending on your project, you may need to apply for a permit.

To find out if you need a permit, visit the Permits and Inspections page, or contact us at permits@victoria.ca or 250.361.0344.

Step 5: Apply for a business licence

To sell your products on-site, you must obtain business licence. You can choose from an annual licence for $100 per year, or a three-month business licence for $25. To sell your products off-site, you will need to obtain an annual business licence costing $100. To sell your products both on-site and off-site, you will need to obtain two different business licences.

Once you have reviewed the Small-Scale Commercial Urban Food Production Handbook [PDF - 519 KB] as well as Schedule L of the Zoning Regulation Bylaw and are ready to apply:

Business licensing information

Approval Process
A Business Licence application takes approximately 10 business days to process. Once your application is approved, you will receive an invoice to the mailing address you provided us on your application form payment was not made in person. You will then receive a Business Licence. Full-year Business Licences for both on-site and off-site sales are effective from January 16 to January 15 of the following year. Three-month Business Licences for on-site sales are effective starting on the day the licence was obtained. Business Licences are non-transferable and the licence fees paid are non-refundable.

Renewals
Operating a business in Victoria requires a valid business licence. Operating a business without a valid licence may result in a fine of $250 per day. Annual licences must be renewed every year. In November, you will receive a Business Licence Renewal Invoice in the mail which is payable by January 15.

Three-month licences for on-site sales must be renewed two weeks before the licence expires, if on-site sales are to continue. A Business Licence Renewal Invoice will not be sent for three-month licences.

You can renew and pay for an existing Business Licence online.

Changes
If you have a change of address, change of name, or change of ownership, please fill out the Business Licence Application [PDF - 712 KB] with any changes. 

If you receive a Business Licence Renewal Invoice but your business has ceased to operate, fill out the Business Licence Account Closure [PDF - 61 KB] and send it to businesslicence@victoria.ca, or by mail or in person to the Business Licence Clerk in the Development Centre at City Hall.

Helpful Resources 

Documents

Agencies

Educational

Business networking

 

Learn more about the other ways you can garden and grow food, including Boulevard Gardening, Community Gardening and Food Tree Stewardship