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Application steps for outdoor / sidewalk cafe approvals

If an outdoor/sidewalk cafe type requires a development permit, follow these steps:

(Note: Step 1 will also help determine if a license of occupation application is required and, if so, you would be advised as to how to go about initiating that process, which is administered by Roads. Steps 2, 4 and 5 also apply to a license of occupation.)

Step 1

Call 403-268-5311 to request a pre-application meeting with a Lead Planner or Senior Planning Technician for “Outdoor Cafe.”  This step can confirm property lines and “footprint” of the proposed cafes as regards private parcel and city sidewalk area, and any status as regards prior approvals or conditions already in effect on a given site.

Step 2

Before you submit your formal application, it is recommended that you contact neighbours who may be affected as a way to identify and address any potential concerns. This is also a good time to look into liquor and food regulations so that there are no surprises.

  • Check with Alberta Health Services (AHS) to make sure your proposed food service meets regulations, particularly if you are planning to cook (e.g., BBQ) or prepare food outside.
  • Check with the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission (AGLC) to make sure your proposed alcohol service meets regulations. In particular, be clear about whether or not your patio is connected to your premises or if liquor service would have to travel through an unlicensed area.

Step 3

Submit your formal application.

  • Tip! As the old saying goes, time is money. The key to successfully navigating the approvals process is to understand the requirements, anticipate next steps and submit well organized, complete applications. City staff are there to help facilitate your success, which foremost means looking for solutions to technical challenges, but also means being open and transparent when a proposal is not likely to be supported. If a DP is required, and is refused, you can appeal the  refusal, but if your appeal is not successful you have to wait six months before you can re-apply.

Step 4

While you’re waiting for development approval, stay on top of any other required approvals:

  • Check with the Calgary Fire Department on occupant load card requirements. Fees may apply.
  • Don’t forget about AHS and AGLC requirements, if applicable. Fees may apply.

Step 5

Once you have all your approvals, apply to have the “Outdoor Patio” category added to your City of Calgary business license.

  • Take note! Planning approvals for outdoor cafes are granted on a temporary basis, typically from 1-5-years. Be sure to re-apply before your approval lapses to avoid non-renewal, suspension or revocation of your business license.

Step 6

When you’re finished with construction/installation of your outdoor cafe/patio, call 403-268-5491 for a Development Completion Permit inspection.​​​