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Cannabis facility business guide

A Development Permit, Building Permit and Business Licence are required to start a Cannabis Facility in Calgary. This guide walks applicants through the process to understand the requirements associated with these applications.

For cannabis facilities, applicants are required to apply in person at the Planning Services CentreBook an appointment online to skip the line.

Business definition

A cannabis facility is a business where the primary use includes the growing, processing, producing, testing, destroying, storing, or distribution of cannabis. Recreational and medical production can occur on the same site.

A Cannabis Facility land use is allowed in the Industrial General (I-G) District.

Development rules

Land use districts

All businesses in Calgary require their site to have the appropriate land use that allows for the proposed business use. Each space in a building has its own specified, approved use that cannot be changed without a development permit. Cannabis-related businesses can only operate within specific land uses.

The land use districts are those proposed by Council prior to final regulations being implemented by the Federal and Provincial governments. There is a possibility that these uses could change.

Enter your proposed business address to determine which types of canabis businesses may operate at your location.

District Use
  • I-G
A cannabis facility may be located in this district.
  • C-N1
  • C-N2
  • C-C1
  • C-C2
  • C-COR1
  • C-COR2
  • C-COR3
  • C-R1
  • C-R2
  • C-R3
  • I-G*
  • I-E
  • I-C
  • CC-X
  • CC-COR
  • CR20-C20/R20
  • CC-ET
  • CC-EIR
  • CC-EMU
  • CC-EPR
  • MU-1
  • MU-2
A cannabis store may be located in this district.

* Only when in conjunction with a cannabis facility.
  • C-N1
  • C-COR1
  • C-R2
  • I-C
  • CR20-C20/R20
  • CC-EPR
  • C-N2
  • C-COR2
  • C-R3
  • CC-MHX
  • CC-ET
  • MU-1
  • C-C1
  • C-COR3
  • I-B
  • CC-X
  • CC-EIR
  • MU-2
  • C-C2
  • C-O
  • I-E
  • CC-COR
  • CC-EMU
A cannabis counselling business may be located in this district.
Direct Control District (DC) A Direct Control District MAY NOT allow for cannabis businesses. Please contact the Planning Services Centre at 403-268-5311 for more information and to get more information on cannabis uses in Direct Control Districts.
All other districts No cannabis related businesses may be located in this land use district. A land use redesignation would be required prior to applying for permits to open any cannabis business in this location.
Separation distance requirements

A cannabis facility must not be located within 75 metres of a residential district measured from the building containing the land use, to the nearest property line of a parcel designated as a residential district.

Transition of Medical Marihuana Facility Use

Any development permit or Direct Control District that was approved as Medical Marihuana Facility prior to the bylaw’s effective date of this Bylaw, is deemed to be the Cannabis Facility use after the effective date of the Land Use Bylaw amendments for cannabis.

Additional rules

Cannabis facilities must also adhere to the following municipal rules:

  • Must possess a licence for all activities associated with cannabis growing, processing, packaging, testing, destruction or storage as issued by Health Canada
  • May have an ancillary building or structure used for security purposes located on the parcel containing the use
  • Must include equipment designed and intended to remove odours from the air where it is discharged from the facility as part of a ventilation system
  • The development authority may require, as a condition of a development permit, a Public Utility and Waste Management Plan, completed by a qualified professional, that includes details on:
     
    • the incineration of waste products and air borne emission, including smell;
    • the quantity and characteristics of liquid and waste material discharged by the facility; and
    • the method and location of collection and disposal of liquid and waste material.
       
  • Requires a minimum number of motor vehicle parking stalls that is the greater of:
    • 1.0 stalls per 100.0 square metres of gross usable floor area for the first 2000.0 square metres, and then 1.0 stalls for each subsequent 500.0 square metres; or
    • 1 stalls per three (3) employees based on the maximum number of employees on the site at any given time.
       
  • Does not require bicycle parking stalls – class 1, but requires a minimum of 1 bicycle parking stalls – class 2 per 250 metres of gross usable floor area.

Development permits

A development permit is required for all new cannabis facilities. Each application is evaluated based on its planning merits. This type of application is a discretionary use and is subject to circulation, review, advertisement and possibly an appeal.

Note: File managers may ask applicants detailed questions about proposed plans to determine whether additional development permits would be required for exterior signs, location of doorways, renovations etc.

Building permits

A building permit may be required for cannabis facilities to meet federal regulations and requirements.

The following are some examples of when a building permit might be required:

  • The space has a new use (e.g. a retail store changes to a restaurant).
  • Any construction is being done, including structural or partition wall changes, mechanical, plumbing, gas or electrical work.
  • The mechanical equipment needs to be upgraded to meet building code, due to a change in use (e.g. car detailing to engine repair affects ventilation rates; using a forklift in a warehouse may require additional ventilation).
  • You are the first tenant in a space.
  • There is a change in kitchen or mechanical ventilation equipment or new equipment being installed.
  • There is a change to the occupant load.

It is the responsibility of the applicant to ensure that any construction work required to adhere to federal cannabis licencing regulations has the appropriate building permit.

Building inspections

City inspections are part of the building permit process. They are intended to ensure safety and compliance with all relevant bylaws and safety codes. The City ensures that minimum construction safety standards are met. Inspections are part of the building permit process and are included in the permit price. Your premises cannot be occupied until your work has passed all required inspections​.

Safety codes officers verify that your completed work meets safety standards and they can assist if you have encountered problems with your project. Having permits approved and completed allows future buyers to verify that your work was inspected by The City.

Contractors should book and coordinate inspections directly with The City.

Business licences

All Cannabis Facilities require a municipal business licence and a federal production licence.

A City of Calgary business license is required for cannabis facilities. A Cannabis Facility licence must not be issued to a residential dwelling unit or any premises located in a residential land use district as described in the Land Use Bylaw or a mobile business unit.

All Cannabis Facility municipal business licences include a police information check. This process is completed by the Calgary Police Service and is initiated on the applicant’s behalf through the initial business application. Please note that previous police checks cannot be used as a substitute for this approval process.

A municipal business licence will be issued when all required municipal approvals have been granted, fees have been paid, and inspections have been completed.

Federal licence

The federal government has indicated that it intends to regulate the production of cannabis. As the final details of the federal legislation are not yet available, producers looking to establish a Cannabis Facility in Calgary need to understand that The City is not responsible for federal regulations and interested parties should review the federal government requirements.

Note: Federal licensing applications are not administered through The City of Calgary.

Timelines

The following summarizes the average times to complete each stage of the municipal approval process.

Development permit: Development permit timelines vary based on the complexity, the degree of impact to the surrounding community, public comments are submitted to the file manager and when the applicant submits information to the file manager. Discretionary development permits require additional circulations as well as an advertising and appeal period. Applicants should familiarize themselves with the details on the development permit process​.​

Building permit: 21 days once development permit is issued, does not include additional time for inspections before final occupancy certificates are granted.

Business licence: 30 days average, final licence is issued only once the final inspection is completed.

Fees

Applicants should consult the following fee schedules for specific costs:

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