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Making a difference: Planning & Development

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It’s now easier to complete a residential improvement project with our new simplified fee structure.

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Information |  PD improvements

It’s now easier to complete a residential improvement project with our new simplified fee structure.

What we've completed

​​Planning & Development is about building Calgary for everyone. Whether you’re a citizen, community member or a customer looking for information or services, we’re focused on making it faster and easier to find what you need. We’re gathering feedback, examining great ideas and removing roadblocks in an effort to make life better for Calgarians. Below are just a few of the many improvements we’re making to help people get involved in the planning process, or to support development in our city.

We’re listening to you

We want to hear from citizens, homeowners, business customers and industry about what improvements can be made, and how City processes can be enhanced. Let us know your thoughts, by commenting on our innovation page.

Our improvement plans and efforts

Learn more about what we’re doing today, to improve our services and customer's experience tomorrow.

Homeowners

We’re working on making it easier to find safety, bylaw and permit information, apply for permits and book inspections online. Part of these improvements include simplifying our processes to enable more self-serve options.

Join us at various business and building events across the city to discuss your project needs.

What we've completed

Renovating your Home Service

In 2019, we are making it easier for customers to complete their Residential Improvement Projects (RIP) with a simplified fee structure. 

We currently calculate RIP fees based on the cost of the customer’s renovation. Because costs can vary wildly, our customers and staff often find themselves negotiating costs based on square footage and our internally-estimated costs. It is a complicated calculation for a routine permit. In 2019, we will launch the following black and white fees:

  • Carport, hot tub, swimming pool, interior renovation, fireplace, retaining wall, deck, existing secondary suite and porch $202
  • Basement, garage, addition under 400 sq ft $332
  • New secondary suite $402
  • New backyard suite and Additions over 400 sq ft $1,312

Selling your Home Service

In 2019, we will launch an all-in-one service for customers who are selling their home and need to obtain a building location certification (compliance). Currently, customers bring in their Real Property Report (RPR) and we review the RPR to ensure all buildings are within the setbacks of their property. If there are any issues, we ask the customer to apply for a relaxation and pay another fee: a second process and a second fee.

In January, we will make this all one process. Customers will pay one fee and make one application. We will review the RPR and, if needed, we will automatically transition the file to a relaxation request at no extra cost. This service will be available at our Planning Services Counter and online.

Certificate of Compliance service now online

Businesses involved in property sales can now apply online for The City of Calgary’s Certificate of Compliance service, a common requirement set out by lending agencies or lawyers. Law firms, surveyors and even real-estate agents can now apply on calgary.ca/compliance, saving time and money by avoiding trips and line-ups at City Hall or by avoiding courier service costs.  The certificate, along with a Real Property Report prepared by an Alberta land surveyor, confirms that the location of structures on a property comply with the Land Use Bylaw.  The City receives approximately 15,000 applications per year. ​

Inspection app

Starting this March, all Planning & Development customers can now book their inspections through the 311 app. Save time by coordinating your inspections through the 311 app instead of waiting on hold, and receive email updates regarding your inspection request and results.

Reproduction of property plans made easier

Registered property owners or their agent/representative can now obtain a copy of historical plans or documents related for their property without having to track down and obtain permission from the original architects, engineers, and builders. The City will now reproduce these plans or documents for the registered property owner under the Fair Dealing exception (Section 29) of the Canadian Copyright Act. Approximately 4,500 customers requested plans from our The City's Property Research Centre last year alone.

Live chat support

We're excited to announce that we're piloting live chat support on calgary.ca/homeimprovement and calgary.ca/mybusiness pages in an effort to help homeowners and business customers find the information they need or start an application or business licence. Live chat support is currently offered during regular business hours, while an after-hour chat-bot is being piloted to address our most popular questions in the evening.

New online services for closing a home sale

We've simplified services for homeowners selling their home, by offering our optional Certificate of Compliance service online. Homeowners can now apply for a certificate when its convenient for them 24/7 on calgary.ca/myhome. A Certificate of Compliance is an optional service provided by The City that satisfy lending agencies and lawyer needs when completing a home sale transaction. The certificate, along with a Real Property Report prepared by an Alberta land surveyor, confirm that the locations of structures on a property comply with the Land Use Bylaw. The City receives approximately 15,000 applications per year.

Save time, apply online for all residential permits

We're pleased to announce that homeowners can now apply for our most popular home improvement permits online. Applying for a permit to ensure safety, is now faster and easier than ever thanks to The City's new single application form, and 24/7 online services. Homeowners can learn about safety requirements, apply for permits and pay for their services on calgary.ca/myhome.

Single application for all home improvement projects

We’ve made life easier for homeowners interested in starting a home improvement project that requires a permit. A new simple and straightforward application process was introduced Oct 5, 2017 that consolidates 51 home improvement application types into a single form. The new approach cuts red tape and takes the guessing game out of permitting requirements for homeowners. Homeowners no longer need to determine when a building, development or homeowner permit is required, as The City will coordinate these needs on their behalf.

Existing relaxation process

Homeowners, real estate agents and lawyers work together to ensure a smooth home sale transaction, but sometimes an existing structure on the property (such as a deck, shed or air conditioning unit) fails to meet the rules of the Land Use Bylaw. The City is changing some of its application requirements that have simplified the process for homeowners to save them time and money.

  • Homeowners no longer need to provide a copy of their Land Title as part of these applications
  • Often for applications of this nature, photos of the existing structures can be provided digitally, eliminating a trip to our counter to provide printed copies
  • Simplifying the process for 1,500 applications per year

Secondary suites

In February 2017, Council approved the development permit (DP) exemption for secondary suites to continue indefinitely. Properties that meet the Land Use Bylaw requirements for a permitted use secondary suite can skip the DP process and proceed directly to the building permit application. This saves an estimated $2,000 in costs and what would normally take 30 days for the DP process is now a 30-minute bylaw review on the spot, making it faster and easier to apply for a secondary suite.

Website improvements

We've enhanced our home improvement pages on calgary.ca/myhome to include Land Use Bylaw and Alberta Building Code information to make it easier for Calgarians to understand these requirements for their home improvement project.

Business customers

We're working on making it easier to start or make changes to a business in Calgary by improving the information we provide customers and enhancing our processes.

What we're working on

  • Benefit – Save time and money avoiding travelling to City Hall to apply in person at our counter.
  • Coordinated customer approvals - New business customers will soon be able to tell us about their business using a single online tool that will outline and guide them through the specific land use, licensing and permit approvals required to complete the project.

    Benefit – A simple journey and improved customer experience that eliminates the need for customers to apply for numerous applications, and permits in the correct sequence for approvals. Business owners save time and money avoiding travelling to City Hall to apply in person at our counter, giving them more time to focus on their business.
  • Development Permit reminder - We're improving how owners are notified of an expiring Temporary Development Permit to ensure they're operating with a license and taking advantage of the renewal discount.

    Benefit - Reminders help ensure owners will be operating with a valid license, and take advantage of renewal savings.

What we've completed

Business friendly service online 

The City is the first and only municipality in Canada to enable small business customers to start a new business and manage a business online. Customers can now apply for a business licenses, update their business details and apply for permits using a single online application. 

​Staff are also available online to assist customers with questions and their application through our chat-feature. Customers thinking about starting a new business can visit calgary.ca/mybusiness​ to learn more about requirements and apply online 24/7. This business-friendly approach to providing full self-directed online service makes it faster and easier than ever to do business with The City.

Certificate of Compliance service now online

Businesses involved in property sales can now apply online for The City of Calgary’s Certificate of Compliance service, a common requirement set out by lending agencies or lawyers. Law firms, surveyors and even real-estate agents can now apply on calgary.ca/compliance​, saving time and money by avoiding trips and line-ups at City Hall or by avoiding courier service costs.  The certificate, along with a Real Property Report prepared by an Alberta land surveyor, confirms that the location of structures on a property comply with the Land Use Bylaw.  The City receives approximately 15,000 applications per year

Change of use

We streamlined our application process for a change of use to improve timelines and create more certainty for business owners and on average saving them two to three weeks in preparation time. Ownership changes in some cases can be applied for over the phone and instantly approved without having to visit City Hall. Other process improvement includes the elimination of site plan or a floor plan and reducing the application process to a single form.

 

Live chat support

We're excited to announce that we're piloting live chat support on calgary.ca/homeimprovement and calgary.ca/mybusiness pages in an effort to help homeowners and business customers find the information they need or start an application or business licence. Live chat support is currently offered during regular business hours, while an after-hour chat-bot is being piloted to address our most popular questions in the evening.

Development permits for events

In 2017, we made it easier for event organizers by allowing a development permit approval for an event to last for three years in good standing and when all criteria are met. This improvement saves business money, while making it faster and easier to establish regular event tents each year.

 


Centre City Enterprise Area requirement

On June 12, 2017, Calgary City Council approved amendments to the Land Use Bylaw that remove a number of process and regulatory requirements in the Centre City to make it easier for businesses to move into new spaces and building owners to make improvements or modifications to their buildings.

These new rules that came into effect on June 26, 2017 improve the ability of building owners in the Centre City Enterprise Area to attract and accommodate new tenants, and allow The City to work towards reducing retail and office vacancies as well maintaining and enhancing activity levels in the Centre City area.

For more information see Centre City Enterprise Area.

Communities

What we’re working on

  • Municipal Development Plan - we're focused on achieving the corporate goals of the Municipal Development Plan and Calgary Transportation Plan through policy development, and application reviews and approvals. Our work is customer-focused and we pride ourselves on our interactions with our partners, stakeholders and the people who call Calgary home. We are aiming high and growing smart to make Calgary a place where people love to live, work and play.
  • Notice improvements phase two – Following the initial launch of our new onsite notice in 2017, additional enhancements to the notice will be made better inform and engage Calgarians about applications currently underway in our city.

What we’ve completed

  • Development information online calgary.ca/development - Citizens can now learn more about applications to redesignate (rezone) a land use, or develop a site in their community 24/7 by visiting our Planning & Development Map. The site was updated in fall 2017 include all development applications types. You can now learn about an application and its status, share it and provide online feedback.
  • Notice Improvements - Thanks to Calgarians' input, we've improved the way we inform citizens about proposed development applications in our city with the launch of our new onsite notice. As of December 1, 2017, all new proposed development sites will have our new, simple and informative notice onsite that includes a map, plain language description and resources including calgary.ca/development to learn more or provide input.

Building and development industry

The City and Development Industry have collaborated to enhance accountability, make improvements, provide opportunities for feedback and set the direction for future work.

As a part of the Industry City Work plan, The Continuous Process Improvement Project (CPI) is looking to improve existing processes and communication across the Approvals Continuum. The City wants to ensure customers have consistency and certainty throughout the application process.

What we’re working on

City of Calgary adds new option of Developer Surety Bonds to secure obligations
As part of our ongoing commitment to making Calgary the best place to invest in business, we are pleased to announce an exciting change for our 2019 Master Development Agreement and the available options to provide securities to The City of Calgary for future development projects.

Until now, the City has only accepted irrevocable letters of credit to secure developers’ obligations. After consulting with stakeholders in the development industry, we have made the decision to accept Developer Surety Bonds issued through a surety company as an alternative to letters of credit. This change, which is reflected in the Master Development Agreement for 2019, comes into effect on March 14, 2019, making it easier than ever to do business in Calgary.

By removing financial barriers for our customers, our aim is to strengthen Calgary’s reputation as a great place to invest in land development and redevelopment. Our sincere hope is that this change will allow our customers to invest those funds into projects that make Calgary one of the most livable cities in the world. We strongly believe that this business-friendly change is in the best interest of citizens and industry alike.

This business-friendly update allows developers a second option for securities that allows flexibility and greater liquidity for their working capital. Letters of credit may restrict working capital or capacity in lending agreements, while bonds allow companies to reinvest funds in other projects to help grow Calgary. Surety bonds may also offer cost savings to some companies, as rates can be lower than those of letters of credit.

In the event of a transfer of ownership for a company, bonds can be transferred in a manner similar to letters of credit. For companies that choose to use surety bonds to secure their development obligations, please note that the security reduction process will continue to be the same as with letters of credit. Once the Final Acceptance Certificate has been issued, bonds will simply expire after one year; no further action is required by a developer.

Developers who have questions about surety bonds, or want to learn about eligibility requirements can contact The City’s Planning Service Centre.

What we've completed

City lowers securities rate to aid development opportunities
The City may accept securities from developers for outstanding work, prior to issuing a Development Completion Permit, to assist in the creation of timely and complete projects in Calgary.

To help support redevelopment in Calgary, The City reduced its securities rate from 150 per cent to 110 per cent on June 1, 2018. The reduction is part of Industry City Work Plan that strives to help reduce financial barriers for customers, while helping stimulate new development opportunities.

For developers, especially those with large projects, the reduction means less money will be held within a City deposit, and could also translate into better borrowing rates from their financial lenders. The City estimates between $4-8 million will be put back in the pocket of customers, which could be put towards other development initiatives or opportunities.

This new rate will be monitored over time to ensure the right balance between cost savings and City/public risk is maintained.

The City will consider reductions to existing securities on a case-by-case basis. Developers interested in this review can contact The City’s Planning Service ​Centre​ and ask to speak to a Senior Development Inspector.

Online Directory for applicants
As a way to provide applicants transparency throughout the approvals process, The CPAG directory was created to give applicants direct access to City staff to ask questions or voice concerns.

Customized Timelines for complex applications

As a part of the Continuous Process Improvement project, in March, 2017, The City launched Customized Timelines for complex applications. A customized timeline is developed collaboratively with The City and the applicant and provides the process milestones and timing. To enhance certainty, Customized Timelines will help The City report application metrics more accurately. If applicants are looking for more information about customized timeline, they can contact their file manager for more information.

Development Commencement Extensions

On April 12, 2017 the Land Use Bylaw was amended to extend development commencement deadlines from a maximum of four or five years to a maximum of six or seven years and provide potential for two year extensions instead of the current one year.

This amendment will give applicants flexibility for longer time periods prior to construction, due to unforeseen circumstances – such as third party approvals or the economic downturn and facilitate a quick response by builders to improved market conditions. This amendment will also reduce significant delays, costs and uncertainty associated with development permit expiry and re-submission.

Development Commencement Extensions will provide a balance of certainty for applicants and stakeholders, while providing more flexibility in the amount of time between the Development Permit (DP) approval and the commencement of construction.

Saving time and money with online permits

Our Residential ePermit system allows registered business customers to apply and pay for building and development permits, track projects and manage inspections online. Application types available include single and semi-detached homes, secondary and backyard suites, home improvement projects and more.

Advantages:

  • Apply 24/7
  • Book inspections easily; no need to call 311
  • Instant correspondence; emails are sent out each stage
  • No finding or paying for downtown parking or standing in line
  • No printing multiple copies of drawings
Providing timeline certainty and transparency with online metrics

As a developer, we know you need some certainty in terms timelines to help run your business. To that end, The City has launched regular updated online metrics on nine application review processes, providing you with both target and actual timelines.

Save time searching for Direct Control Districts

There is a specific set of uses and rules for each of the numerous Direct Control (DC) Districts in the city. Each DC has its own bylaw number (or resolution number prior to 1980) which identifies the uses and rules that apply to the DC.

It is now easier to find a Direct Control District with our new search function.

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