Be sure to verify that your business is allowed to operate in the zone that it is located in before you sign a lease or purchase a property!

Starting a business is a major undertaking and there are a number of resources available at the District of Sparwood to assist you with that process. Buying or leasing a building or premises and getting a business licence are just two of the many steps to complete. This handout includes details of the important things you need to consider and review when you are starting a business in Sparwood prior to entering into a lease or purchasing expensive equipment.

  • What is a Zone?

    All land within the District of Sparwood is assigned a zone under the District’s Zoning Bylaw. The zone on a property determines what uses are allowed, the dimensional requirements for lots, the height of buildings and how far they can be setback from a property boundary. The zone also determines the maximum density of buildings on a property and is typically measured as a Floor Area Ratio (FAR) and the maximum amount of constructed floor area (building space) in relation to the lot size.

    The zoning on individual properties is identified on the District’s Zoning Bylaw maps.

  • When is a Development Permit Required?

    A Development Permit is required for all exterior renovations to a building or structure within a Development Permit Area.

    Contact the Planning Department for more information regarding the requirements for a Development Permit.

  • When is a Building Permit Required?

    Building permits are required for new construction, temporary buildings and for alterations to existing construction. You should always review your building requirements with the District’s Building Inspector before starting a project.

  • When is a Sign Permit Required?

    Anyone intending to place a sign on the exterior of any building or structure, or on any property in the District, must apply for a sign permit with Planning Department. The sign permit application will be reviewed for compliance with the District’s Sign Bylaw. If the proposed sign meets the Bylaw requirements, a Sign Permit will be issued to allow for installation of the proposed sign.

    This requirement applies to both permanent and temporary signs, such as a sandwich board or portable sign.

  • I Want to have an Outdoor Display or Seating Area, what is required?

    You will need to confirm with Planning Department if your proposed business-use allows for outdoor displays or seating. If it does, there may also be limitations on the size and location - you need to confirm these limitations.

    Any permitted display and seating that is located on a public right-of-way, such as a sidewalk, will require a Sidewalk Use Permit or License of Occupation. Contact the Planning Department for more information on the permit requirements.

Verify that all building improvements and renovations were permitted

Modifications to a structure, including electrical, plumbing or heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) work must meet the British Columbia Building Code, Plumbing Code and Fire Code. You should confirm with your leasing or real estate agent that renovations were completed to meet these code requirements and within required building and/or plumbing permits.

If you are planning to renovate or build an addition to an existing building, find out if you need a Building, Plumbing or Fire Sprinkler Permit

Permits are required for the removal, installation and/or relocation of interior walls, doorways and windows.  As mentioned above, please note that any previous work completed without permits will require a subsequent permit and may require alterations to meet appropriate Building and Plumbing Code requirements. A fire sprinkler permit is also required if you are making alterations to an existing system.

Confirm what type of sign(s) you can install and the type of sign permits required

Before designing, purchasing or installing any signs, check with Planning Department to ensure that they will be permitted. There are limitations on the size and types of signs you can install. A sign permit is required for any sign placed on a property or installed on a building exterior. You will also be required to remove any previously installed signs that do not meet the District’s Sign Bylaw requirements or obtain additional sign permit(s) for signs which do meet the Bylaw requirements but were installed without a sign permit.

Confirm whether your business requires approvals from provincial agencies

Depending on the type of business you are operating in Sparwood, you may require other permits or licences that are not regulated by the District of Sparwood. Examples include liquor licences and health licences. It is important to be aware of these requirements as they are in place to protect the safety and health of you, your customers and the general public.

Research what other approvals, permits or certificates you may require from other agencies, including but not limited to the following.

  • Technical Safety BC

    You may need an operating permit from Technical Safety BC (formerly known as the BC Safety Authority) to install or repair operating high voltage electrical equipment, hot water boilers, steam boilers, pressure vessels, or air conditioning and refrigeration systems, or if you are dispensing propane, natural gas or hydrogen.

    Technical Safety BC 14 - 600 Industrial Road 1, Cranbrook, BC, V1C 4C8 | P: 1-866-566-7233 | W: | E:

  • Interior Health

    Some business operations will require approval from Interior Health. Some of these business types include:

    • Restaurants, cafes, grocery stores, and other businesses that handle food and beverages;
    • Personal and beauty care services, such as hair cutting, estheticians, skin care, nail care, and tanning salons; and
    • All programs and facilities providing care to three or more children.

    Cranbrook Health Protection Office: Suite 103, 1700 – 4th Street, Cranbrook, BC V1C 6E1 | P: 250.420.2220 | 1.888.426.7566 (toll free) | W:

  • Passenger Transportation Branch

    Any person, partnership or company planning to operate commercial passenger vehicles require a passenger transportation licence issued under the Passenger Transportation Act.

    Passenger Transportation Branch, Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure: 313 – 1500 Woolridge Street, Coquitlam, BC, V3K 0B8 | Ph: 604.527.2205 | 1.800.663.7867 (toll free) | W: | E:

  • Liquor Control and Licensing Branch

    If you sell or serve alcohol, you must obtain a license from Liquor Control and Licensing.

    Liquor Licensing Help Desk: Ph: 1.866.209.2111 | W: | E: