Ottawa – Opening a new restaurant is a lot of work. That’s why the City of Ottawa created the Business Ambassador Service (BAS) as a pilot project in 2013 to help restaurant owners get their new businesses up and running.

In 2014, the BAS was nominated nationally for a Golden Scissors Award by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) for municipal excellence in “cutting the red tape” for business owners. Clients using the BAS completed their process with the City in significantly less time – on average in 35 fewer business days.

In light of its success, Mayor Jim Watson and Councillor Diane Deans, Chair of the City’s Community and Protective Services Committee, revealed plans today to make the Business Ambassador Service permanent and to expand the service to benefit more entrepreneurs and small businesses. The announcement was made at Score Pizza, part of the revitalized CF Rideau Centre and one of the latest restaurants to benefit from this valuable service.

The Business Ambassador Service helps restaurant owners navigate through the application process by clarifying what permits and licences are required, and when. Restaurant owners can work directly with City staff or use an online tool.

The service is currently available to a range of food-related businesses, including cafés, bakeries and butcher shops, with plans to expand the list to include food trucks.

These changes to the Business Ambassador Service require the approval of City Council.

Key facts:

  • More than 150 food businesses have opened since 2013 with the help of the BAS.
  • More than 120 food businesses are currently using the BAS.
  • In 2016, 418 business licences were issued to new food premises in Ottawa.
  • The BAS is part of the business licensing program operated by By-law and Regulatory Services.


“The Business Ambassador Service has proven to be extremely helpful to entrepreneurs who want to open a new food business in Ottawa. That is why I have asked staff to come back with a proposal to make the BAS a permanent service and to expand its scope to benefit more local entrepreneurs and small businesses in our community.”
Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson