Lack of clarity in the Land Use Bylaw is creating confusion over permitting requirements for outdoor murals. Often home or business owners believe that the cost of getting a Development Permit for a mural is more than the cost to paint a mural on a building. This has prevented many owners from pursuing the activity.
The Land Use Bylaw has been reviewed to clarify that a permit is not required for murals as long as specific guidelines are met. If advertising is included in a mural, it must be less than 10% of the art piece. If a mural contains more than 10% of advertising then it will be considered signage and require a sign permit. City staff that issue permits have received training to determine when a mural is considered outdoor art signage or advertising. Regular updates on Council decisions that may affect signage or other public visual space are provided to staff, ensuring that applications are reviewed and bylaw regulations are understood and applied consistently.
Painted murals that do not display any form of written text or direct/indirect advertising, is not considered an art sign and therefore does not require a Development Permit, unless the building exterior was specified in a previous approved Development Permit. As art tends to be a subjective matter, City staff have received training to be able to provide consistent information to customers seeking clarification about mural permitting based on current regulations. Examples of acceptable murals and information are now available on calgary.ca for customers to review online.
“In the proper context, public murals add to the very fabric that makes urban environments more interesting. It is our hope that more people or organizations will now feel empowered to animate their communities.”
- Paul S. City of Calgary employee