Alcohol licensing is provincially regulated through the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO). When serving alcohol, the event organizer must obtain the proper permit through the AGCO and adhere to AGCO regulations.
Two types of temporary licences that may be needed:
- Special Occasion Permit (SOP)
- Temporary Extension (e.g., patios or hours)
Apply for a temporary alcohol licence
AGCO Contact Centre
iAGCO inquiry form
Notification to local authorities
For outdoor events, proof of notification to local authorities is required as part of the Special Occasion Permit application. To obtain this proof of notification, submit the Municipal notification – Alcohol form.
Once you submit the form, it will be automatically sent to the Ottawa Police Service, Ottawa Fire Prevention, Ottawa Paramedic Service, Centralized Allocations, Ottawa Public Health, Building Code Services, and the Event Central Office. An e-mail confirmation from Event Central will be sent when the notification is received, and can be attached to the licence application in the iAGCO portal.
Site requirements for Municipal Property
Events occurring outdoors on City property (on-street and off-street) must meet the conditions outlined in section 4.3 of the Municipal Alcohol Policy.
The banner program allows for a temporary sign other than a poster sign and is a decorative banner or a street banner to be installed on City of Ottawa owned poles or utility poles with the approval from the respective owner of the pole in accordance with the Signs on City Roads By-law (2003-520).
Banner permits can be issued at any time and are valid for up to 1 year.
All banners must comply with the City of Ottawa Corporate Sponsorship and Advertising Policy:
Large events must file a notification of electrical work four to six weeks before the event to the Electrical Safety Authority. Midways, amusement devices and food vendors that run on generators need an ESA electrical notification. An ESA inspector may need to review the electrical work.
Electrical Safety Authority
Food vendors business licence
Every food vendor selling food or beverages at an event must have a business licence. Information on licence requirements and fees for mobile refreshment cart, mobile refreshment vehicle, mobile canteen, and refreshment stands are outlined on the business licensing page.
Food vendors public health
Food vendors operating at an event where the general public will consume food or beverages must advise Ottawa Public Health (OPH) by completing the special event and farmer’s market vendor application form. OPH’s requirements for food vendors at special events provides additional information on food vending at events.
Itinerant sellers (merchandise for sale)
Every vendor selling merchandise for a profit must have a business licence. Note: a licence is not needed for local handmade artisanal products.
Two categories of licences based on the number of sellers at the event:
- events with less than five sellers
- each seller must apply for a licence
- events with five or more sellers
- organizer must apply for an exhibition licence to cover all sellers
OTTAWA sign illumination request
OTTAWA sign location
York Street at Sussex Drive in the ByWard Market
OTTAWA sign history
The original OTTAWA sign was installed in May 2017 during Canada’s 150th anniversary celebrations. In 2019, the City of Ottawa, with support from Ottawa Tourism, replaced the original sign with a more permanent and durable structure. The sign features programmable LED lighting and is illuminated 24 hours a day and 365 days per year.
The OTTAWA sign showcases a variety of default seasonal themes and formal celebrations throughout the year and welcomes sign lighting requests through its Community Lighting program.
Thank you for your interest in the OTTAWA Sign!
All requests and inquiries pertaining to the illumination program should be directed to ByWard Market District Authority.
A building permit may be required for temporary tents, patios, awnings and canopies during the COVID-19 pandemic. Additional information and requirements on tents and patios can be found on the Right of Way web page. The following outlines the requirements for tents, patios, awnings and canopies including exemptions for when a building permit would not be required: