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Special events

Party tents and other special functions

If you are planning an event, all applicable safety regulations, bylaw rules and licensing requirements must be met.

When is a permit required?


The City’s Land Use Bylaw​ contains rules for special events taking place on private property. Structures that are involved with an event are also subject to safety regulations. Review the Alberta Building Code and Land Use Bylaw to find out if your event requires a development permit, building permit, or both.

Depending on the event activities and location, you may also require a business licence.

How to apply


Step 1: Review the checklist, the Alberta Building Code and the Land Use Bylaw.

If you require a development permit, building permit, or both, review the applicable requirements to prepare your application:

Step 2: Prepare your application

If you require a development permit, plan to apply a minimum of eight to 10 weeks prior to the event. If only a building permit is required, plan to apply about three weeks prior to the event. You may require both types of permits.

Confirm if your permit qualifies for quick release.

Fees

Planning Approval - Development Permit (prior to construction)​​​​​ ​ ​ ​ ​
​Permit fee ​Advertising fee ​Development Completion Inspection ​Total
​Special event ​$380 ​$32 ​- ​$657
 
​​ ​Building Safety Approval - Building Permit
​Special event ​​Please use the Building permit fee calculator​ to estimate your fee.

For online submissions with large permit costs, there is a deposit process in place that limits the amount paid online. For base building permit fees (Permit Fee) over $10,000, the deposit required to begin processing your application will be indicated as the deposit at the fee step in the online application. The remaining total building permit fee must be paid prior to permit issuance. You may complete your payment by mailing it to:

City of Calgary
Planning Cash Office
MC 8108
PO Box 2100 Stn M
Calgary, AB T2P 2M5

Please include your building permit number on the cheque and envelope.

Step 3: Apply

Apply online

Review The City’s criteria​ for information on how to organize your plans and documents when uploading to the online application.

In person
Once you have gathered all required documents, you can apply for your permit in person by visiting the Planning Services Centre. To skip the line, book an appointment.

Step 4: Inspections

If your event requires a building permit, you will be asked on the building permit application when you would like to book your inspection. If you would like to make a change to your requested inspection date after applying, contact 311.

There are several options available for booking an inspection. Download the 311 mobile app, visit 311 online services or phone 311. Your permit number, address and contact information will be required. Requests for next day inspection service must be made before 2 p.m. on a business day.

Review the additional inspection information provided below.

Bylaw and code information


Land Use Bylaw

Special Function - Class 1 accommodates educational, social, recreational, sporting and worship events such as weddings, birthdays, trade shows and ceremonies, or allows expansion of the uses already occurring on the property. These functions have a minimal effect on the surrounding neighbourhood. If you do not meet all of the Special Function - Class 1 rules, you will require a development permit.

Rules for Class 1

Class 1 events do NOT require a development permit provided they meet ALL of the following rules:

  • Maximum 15 consecutive days; maximum 30 days in a year
  • Maximum 1 story in height for any associated temporary structures such as a tent
  • May be located anywhere on the property except for within the corner visibility triangle
  • Not located in the floodway or flood fringe*

Otherwise, a development permit is required.

*Note: A development permit is required for special functions that take place in the floodway or flood fringe to assess potential safety issues.

Special Function - Class 2 accommodates the temporary expansion of a commercial licensed establishment, including a conference and event facility, drinking establishment, restaurant and night club. These events may have higher impacts in the community and a development permit is generally required. Review the Special Function - Class 2 rules for an exemption list.​​

Rules for Class 2

Generally, a development permit IS required, however smaller, short term events do not require a development permit provided they meet ALL the following rules:

  • Maximum 3 consecutive days; maximum 15 days in a year
  • Maximum 1 story in height for any associated temporary structures such as a tent
  • Maximum size restrictions for any associated temporary structures such as a tent:
    • under 125 square metres when within 45 metres of a residential district
    • under 300 square metres in the downtown and East Village
    • under 75 square meters in districts that only allow small drinking establishments (C-N1, C-N2, I-E, I-R, CC-ER and CC-EPR)
  • May be located anywhere on the property except for within the corner visibility triangle
  • Not located in the floodway or flood fringe*

*Note: A development permit is required for special events that take place in the floodway or flood fringe to assess potential safety issues.

While most Special Function - Class 2 development permit applications can be processed in a minimum of 10 weeks, processing time varies and cannot be guaranteed. To allow adequate time to resolve any issues that may arise, it is recommended that you apply early, starting with a pre-application meeting. You can even apply as much as 12 months prior to your event.​

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When required, the Development Permit process allows for a comprehensive evaluation of the impact the proposed event may have on nearby properties.

If you are having more than one special event this season at the same address (parcel), please allow time between events to completely dismantle the tent and restore the area to its original condition before the next event begins. Otherwise, a development permit may be required.​

Alberta Building Code

Tents, air supported structures, stages and other festival-type structures (e.g. towers to house speakers and lighting; seating; dance and viewing platforms; roofs, towers and masts; marquees; decorative items, such as archways, signs, and sideshows) are considered to be buildings as defined by the 2006 Alberta Building Code and are subject to safety regulations and building permit requirements.

Building permit requirements

A building permit is required:

  • For tents that cover more than 60 square meters (individually or collectively)
  • For smaller tents (tents less than 60 square meters) that are within three meters of another structure or contain commercial cooking equipment
  • Any time stages or other festival-type structure are constructed, installed or erected

For residential uses, building permits are NOT required as per the Safety Codes Act Permit Regulation. The City would review residential tents on a complaints basis and respond to any unsafe condition.​​

Additional information


Licensing

An existing licence automatically extends to an event taking place on the same property as the licensed business. A new license would be required for activities that require a licence and are located on a different property.

To sell or provide liquor at a private event, you may require a Special events licence through Alberta Gaming & Liquor Commission.

If you are operating or organizing a mobile food vending unit at an event, you may require approval through Alberta Health Services. See the Special events - organizer package.

Location

Special events that take place on City land are managed differently than those on private property. For more information about events on public land, visit Before booking a park, pathway or greenspace and planning festivals and events.

Event tents for private residential properties do not require a building permit as per the Safety Codes Act Permit Regulation. The City reviews residential tents on a complaints basis and responds to any unsafe conditions.

Feedback

Safety regulations, bylaw rules and licensing requirements are intended to help keep Calgarians and visitors safe, and ensure special events are run responsibly and respectfully. To provide feedback on how well these measures are working, please contact 311.

Multi-agency safety review of licensed establishments
In response to concerns regarding social disorder and community impacts in and around licensed establishments, all development permit and business licensing applications for licensed establishments – including those in tents – undergo a Licensed Establishment Multi-Agency Group (LEMAG) review to ensure owners and applicants are aware of and adhere to all applicable policies and legislation. Representatives with extensive knowledge, diverse perspectives and experiences with licensed establishments are engaged as required and include members from Calgary Police Services, Animal & Bylaw Services, Calgary Fire Department, Alberta Gaming & Liquor Commission and Alberta Health Services.

LEMAG endeavours to enhance personal and public safety in licensed establishments. During special events, such as the Calgary Stampede, the compliance arm of LEMAG conducts random inspections and takes enforcement action as appropriate to help ensure the event takes place responsibly.​​

Other safety regulations

City of Calgary Policies for Electrical and the City of Calgary Policies for Plumbing and Gas also contain regulations and requirements for tents where there are cooking appliances, electricity, propane, or other fuel sources involved or proposed for use in connection within these temporary structures/tents.

Alberta Fire Code requirements must also be met. There are special fire safety considerations for cooking booths at events and fire-safe event planning assistance is also available. Tents are also included in the Calgary Fire Department’s Bar and nightclub safety program, which focusses on fire prevention.

Inspection information


Inspections take place both as part of the permit and licensing approval process and also proactively during large events such as the Calgary Stampede. City of Calgary safety codes officers may also exercise discretion to conduct additional inspections.

Non-compliance of any applicable code, regulation or condition of approval can result in warning notices, violation tickets, orders, license suspensions, charges or immediate court action.

If a fire inspection is required, submit your request through 311.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

Disclaimer: This information has no legal status and cannot be used as an official interpretation of the various bylaws, codes and regulations currently in effect. The City of Calgary accepts no responsibility to persons relying solely on this information. Web pages are updated periodically.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​