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Fences & retaining walls

 

Including garden boxes, raised planters, skateboard and sports ramps

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”).

Typically you do NOT need a permit for a skateboard or sports ramp if the ramp:

  • Is less than 1.5 m high, 5 m wide and 6 m long.
  • Is in a residential backyard.
  • Is 1.2 m from side and rear property lines and away from fences, decks and accessory buildings like a garage or shed.
  • Is not attached to any structure such as house, deck or other building.

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.

Online

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.

Additional Illustrations of the corner visibility and additional height rules can be found on our Home-improvement/residential fence guidelines provided online.

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 low density or multi-residential districts (land use districts that start with R or M). Refer to the myProperty map to confirm the rules that apply to your land use district.

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

Inspection information

All residential construction and electrical permits can be booked at 311 online services Inspection - Residential Improvement Project/Electric.

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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