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Fences & retaining walls

 

Including garden boxes, raised planters, skateboard and sports ramps

Need help? Chat with us. We can help guide you through your home improvement project and assist you with:

  • Determining what permits you might require.
  • Offering solutions or alternatives.
  • Transitioning you smoothly through the application process.

When do I need a permit?

Typically a fence does NOT need a permit when:

  • In the rear yard it is no higher than 2m (6’-6”)
  • In the front yard it is no higher than 1.2m (4’-0”)
  • Inside a corner visibility triangle it is no higher than 0.75m (2’-6”)
  • The gate is no higher than 2.5m (8’-2”).

In most situations a fence does NOT need a building safety approval (building permit). If your design or location does not meet land use bylaw specifications you will require planning approval (development permit).

Typically a retaining wall or garden box does NOT need a permit when:

  • It is not retaining more than 1m (3’-3”) of soil, and
  • The combined height of all retaining walls and garden boxes within 1m (3’-3”) of each other have a height less than 1m (3’-3”).

In most situations retaining walls and garden boxes only require a building safety approval (building permit). If your design or location does not meet land use bylaw specifications you will also require planning approval (development permit).

Typically a skateboard or sports ramp does NOT need a permit when:

  • It is less than 1.5m high, 5m wide, and 6m long, and
  • It is in a residential backyard, and
  • It is 1.2m from the side and rear property lines, and
  • It is not attached to any other structures such as a fence, deck, garage, or shed.

In most situations a skateboard or sports ramp does NOT need a building safety approval (building permit). If your design or location does not meet land use bylaw specifications you will also require planning approval (development permit).

How do I start an application?

Step 1:

Use one of the checklists below to determine what requirements you'll need before applying online, or in person: Fence, Retaining walls.

Step 2: Prepare your drawings

To help you design your project, see the building code and City bylaw information section.

Step 3: Apply

Once you have gathered the required documents, apply for your permit. Use our fee calculator to estimate how much your permit will cost.

Save time. Apply Online!

Create a myID account, apply and upload required documents in step 1.

Homeowners: apply.calgary.ca.

Contractors, and industry professionals: vista.calgary.ca.

In person

Complete the home improvement application and visit the Planning Services Centre with the required documents in step 1.

To skip the line, book an appointment.

Building code and bylaw information

Note: It is the responsibility of the applicant to ensure that the work being carried out conforms to any restrictive covenants, caveats or other restrictions that are registered on the land title.

Illustrations of codes and bylaws

Sample drawings for building permits and development permits for fences and retaining walls.

Measuring the height of fences, retaining walls and garden boxes

Retaining walls over 1.0 m in height will require a development permit.

Garden boxes must follow the rules of a retaining wall when the garden box is holding back soil at grade level. Please refer to images provided.

Garden box – measured at grade - no development permit or building permit required
Garden box – measured at grade - no development permit or building permit required
Garden Box - measured at lower grade - development and building permit required
Garden Box - measured at lower grade - development and building permit required

Retaining walls and fence heights are measured from grade to the top of the fence:

Fence located on top of retaining wall showing depths
Fence located on top of retaining wall showing depths

Derelict or run down fences

Fences on private property that are in poor condition are handled by the Community Standards Bylaw. Contact 311 for more information.

Developer fences

In most situations where a fence has been built by a developer, a restrictive covenant is registered on the land title, outlining the property owner’s rights. Developer fences older than two years are no longer the responsibility of the developer. To see who is responsible after the developer, refer to your caveat.

For any questions regarded fences off roadways, parks and pathways, contact 311.

Rules and Guidelines for Skateboards and Sport Ramps

Skateboards and sport ramps are only allowed in a Low Density Residential or Multi-Residential District, if your land use district starts with an “R” or an “M”, backyard skateboard ramps are allowed, if they meet the rules. Refer to the myProperty map to confirm the rules that apply to your land use district. Higher density areas of the Centre City like the downtown do not have access to backyard ramps.

You will only require a development permit if the height restrictions are exceeded and the structure falls outside the maximum allowable size.

In most cases, a building permit is not required, as the structure would not be considered habitable

Please seea guide to skateboard and sport ramps for examples of various structures that fall under this category.

Encroachment guidelines

New fence construction is not permitted to extend onto City of Calgary property. Visit the encroachments page for more information.

Additional inquiries about building, plumbing, gas, electrical or heating, ventilation and air conditioning code or construction methods, building safety and fire regulations, please contact the Technical Assistance Centre or call 311. For all other inquiries (i.e. Land Use Bylaw), please contact our Planning Services Centre.

Inspection information

All inspections for residential construction, electrical, plumbing and gas fireplace installation permits can be booked online using our 311 app or calgary.ca/311online. When choosing the service type, scroll down to Inspection and choose your project. You will need to provide your permit number, address and contact information

Most retaining wall projects only require a rough-in inspection. The requirement for a final inspection can be waived at the discretion of the inspector.

Rough-in inspection

  • Complete the retaining wall.
  • Install guards.
  • Have requested documentation on site

The inspection process is dynamic and an inspection outcome depends on the chosen construction method and site conditions at time of inspection. The information provided is not intended as an exhaustive list but a generalized outline of the inspection process.

A development completion permit inspection may be required if a development permit is involved in your project. Call our Planning Services Centre at 403-268-5311 to determine if a development completion permit is required.

Call before you dig

Always call Alberta One Call before you dig: 1-800-242-3447. For more information or to submit a locate request, visit Alberta One-Call.

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.

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