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Fences, retaining walls and garden boxes


We’re here to help guide you through your home improvement project. By completing the home improvement application, we can assist you by:

  • Determining what permit types you require
  • Offering solutions or alternatives
  • Processing your application
  • Transitioning you smoothly through the application process

Do I need a permit?

Typically you do NOT need a permit if the fence:

  • is in the rear yard and is not higher than 2 m (6’-6”).
  • is in the front yard and is not higher than 1.2 m (4’-0”).
  • has a gate that is not higher than 2.5 m (8’-2”).
  • is inside a corner visibility triangle and is not higher than 0.75 m (2’-6”).

Typically you do NOT need a permit for a retaining wall or garden box if:

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

If your project falls outside of any of the above specifications, you will require a permit.

Visit understanding permits and the review proces​s to find out more about the permitting process.

How do I make an application?

Step 1: Open the application form and checklist

Use the home improvement application as a starting point, to determine the specific requirements for your project.

Step 2: Prepare your drawings

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

Step 3: Apply

Submit the application once you have provided all the documents required. Use our fee calculator to estimate how much your permit will cost.


Homeowners: Coming soon

Contractors/industry professionals: Apply online

In person

Once you have gathered the required documents, you can apply for your permit in person by visiting the Planning Services Centre. 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.

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 Ass​istance Centre​ or call 311. For all other inquiries (i.e. Land Use Bylaw), please contact our Planning Services Centre.

Inspection information

Book your inspections by contacting 311 and providing them with your permit number.

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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