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Party tents and other special functions

Are you planning a special event? Keep in mind that special functions are required to meet applicable safety regulations, bylaw rules and licensing requirements.

Special functions include:

Party Tents
  • Weddings
  • Performances
  • Sporting events
  • Charity runs and walks
  • Races and triathlons
  • Arts, cultural and music festivals
  • Parades
  • Block parties
  • Other celebrations

We’re committed to providing you with a timely response on your permit 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, you should allocate about three weeks. You may require both types of permits. For assistance or to determine if you need a Development Permit, contact Planning & Development at 403-268-5311 or download the Tents and Canopies for Outdoor Special Events brochure.

If you are having more than one special function 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 special function begins. Otherwise, a Development Permit will be required.

Development Permit Complete Application Requirement List for Special Functions

Building Permit Application Requirement List for Special Functions

Bylaw Rules

The City’s land use bylaw contains rules for special functions that take place on private property. If required, the Development Permit process allows for a comprehensive evaluation of the impact the proposed event may have on nearby properties. Special events that take place on City land are managed differently. For more information, see before booking a park, pathway or green space and planning festivals and events.

Special functions are classified in two ways:

A Special Function – Class 1 accommodates educational, social, recreational, sporting and worship events such as weddings, circuses, birthdays, trade shows and ceremonies, or allows the expansion of the uses already occurring on the property. These functions are anticipated to have a minimal effect on the surrounding neighbourhood.

A 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 and a Development Permit is generally required if:

  • The event is more than three days
  • Structures are greater than 125 square metres in area when within 45 metres of residential properties
  • The event is not on the same area of land as an approved establishment

Please call 403-268-5311 if you have any questions or need assistance to determine if a Development Permit is required.

Building regulations

Tents, air supported structures, stages and other festival-type structures (towers to house speakers and lighting; seating; dance and viewing platforms; roofs, towers, and masts; marquees; and 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 permit requirements.

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.

For all other events, permits are required for tents that cover more than 60 square meters (individually or collectively) and for smaller tents (tents less than 60 square meters) that are within three meters of another structure or contain commercial cooking equipment. In addition, any time stages or other festival-type structure are constructed, installed or erected, owners and event organisers are required to apply for a building permit, regardless of the duration or timing of the event.

For more information on building permit requirements, applications and inspections, contact Planning & Development at 403-268-5311.

Other safety regulations

The 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.

Licensing

A City of Calgary Business licence is required for special functions that are commercial in nature (e.g., a “party tent” operating as a bar or nightclub; retail sales; etc.). An existing licence automatically extends to cover an event taking place on the same land as the licensed business, otherwise, a new license would be required.

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 deemed appropriate 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.

Inspections and compliance

Inspections take place as part of permit and licensing approval processes and pro-actively during large events like the Calgary Stampede.

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.

Tents are also included in the Calgary Fire Department’s Bar and nightclub safety program, which is focused on fire prevention.

Book an inspection for a Special Event Tent.

Feedback

Safety regulations, bylaw rules and licensing requirements are intended to help keep citizens safe and ensure special functions are run responsibly and respectful of neighbours. To provide feedback on how well these measures are working, please call 3-1-1.

Provincial authorities with jurisdiction

Alberta Gaming & Liquor Commission - when Special events licences are required.

Alberta Health Services - when operating a mobile food vending unit in conjunction with the tent; see Special events – organizer package. This package outlines the mandatory minimum requirements to reduce the possibility of illness or injury to those who attend a special event. ​​