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Applying for the Development Permit exemption

If you're thinking about developing a secondary suite, or legalizing an existing suite, there is no better time than now. City Council approved an 18 month long Development Permit exemption from September 1, 2015 to March 3, 2017. If your property is eligible, you can save an estimated $2,200 in costs and hours of paperwork by skipping the Development Permit process altogether.

Skip a suite step

Is your property a candidate for the permit exemption?

Property eligibility requirements:

  • Your home must be zoned to allow a secondary suite, or have obtained a Land Use Redesignation

Check your property’s zoning by contacting us or visit suites page

  • Your proposed secondary suite must be a permitted use, located in the home only (basement suite)

See our FAQs for permitted vs discretionary uses

  • Meets all Land Use Bylaw requirements
    • parcel (property) dimensions
    • Onsite parking stall
    • Outdoor amenity space

See our chart below for dimensions based on your property’s Land Use District

Basement Suite

Don’t qualify for the permit exemption?

Good news, The City is currently waiving the Development Permit fee for secondary suites, and if your property is not zoned to allow a suite, the fee for a Land Use Redesignation application. You’ll still have to apply but at least you won’t need your wallet.

Why a Development Permit exemption?

Legal and safe secondary suites have been inspected to meet Alberta’s building code and provide people a safe place to live. The exemption program makes it faster and easier for those interested in developing a suite or making an existing suite legal by eliminating the Development Permit process where eligible.

Benefits of Secondary Suites

What steps do I need to take?

  • You can verify if your property is zoned for secondary suites by entering your address on zoning tool, or you can contact our Planning Service Call Centre for assistance.
  • Ensure you meet the minimum size requirements for your parcel’s Land Use District.
  • Your property must provide an onsite parking stall and a large enough private amenity space outside for a resident (minimum 7.5m², with no dimension less than 1.5m)

    Minimum parcel dimensions:

    Land Use District Minimum Parcel Width Minimum Required Parcel Depth Minimum Required Parcel Area
    R-1s 11m 30m 330m²
    R-C1s 15m 30m 400m²
    R-C2, R-2 9m None None
    R-C1Ls 24m 30m 1100m²
  • Complete the application form (below), book an appointment(please select Development Permit) or visit the Planning Services Counter. The details of your application will be reviewed by our planning staff to ensure your property is eligible for the exemption.
  • Development Permit Exempt Secondary Suite application form

    Here’s what you’ll need to bring or have as part of your application:

    • Site Plan (Existing Real Property Report)
    • Floor Plan
    • Side Elevation
    • Cross Section
  • Should your application be eligible for the Development Permit exemption, you can apply for a Building Permit to begin construction or renovations. You or your qualified licensed contractor can begin applying for Trade Permits. The time required to complete your secondary suite depends on your personal plans, but all construction must meet all safety code requirements for occupancy to be approved. 
  • You or your qualified licensed contractor contacts 311 to book a City inspection to ensure all Alberta Safety Code and City bylaw requirements have been met.

What permits do you need?

If your property is determined to be eligible for the Development Permit exemption, your project will require a:

  • Building Permit
  • Applicable Trade Permit(s) - e.g. heating, electrical, plumbing, gas.


  • Do I need to consider anything else?

    General Considerations

    • All new and existing secondary suites are required to be safe in accordance with the Alberta Safety Codes Act.

    Existing Suites

    • Legal suites that existed prior to December 31, 2006 must meet the requirements under the Alberta Fire Code. Any upgrades or renovations to these suites must meet the Alberta Building Code in the future.

    Additional resources

    More about secondary Suite Safety
    Government of Alberta - Secondary Suites

  • FAQs

    What is a Development Permit?

    A Development Permit is a type of permit which allows the use of a site for construction that ensures planning and development rules in the Land Use Bylaw are followed. Normally, a Development Permit is required whether the proposed secondary suite is a permitted or discretionary use (see below) as per the Land Use Bylaw. However, once the exemption takes effect, permitted use secondary suites will not require a Development Permit so long as no relaxations are required.

    What does the Development Permit exemption program mean for homeowners wanting to build a secondary suite?

    Starting September 1, 2015, if your proposed suite is a permitted use and meets all the Land Use Bylaw rules, you do not need to apply for a Development Permit. This will make it less expensive, faster and easier to obtain approval from The City for a safe and legal secondary suite, as you will be able to proceed directly to the Building Permit stage.

    What is the difference between a permitted use and a discretionary use?

    Suites are listed as a discretionary use in Land Use Districts such as R-1N and R-C1N, which means that unlike a permitted use, community associations and neighbours are notified of the proposed suite and are given the opportunity to provide input (and appeal a decision) during the approval process.

    Backyard suites are always a discretionary use since they result in a visible change to the property.

    Where a suite is a permitted use, the Development Permit exemption will allow you to proceed directly to the Building Permit stage, as long as your application does not require any relaxations from the Land Use Bylaw rules.

    What's the fastest way to determine if my property is eligible?

    1. Contact our Planning Services Call Centre for assistance:

    Monday through Friday (closed holidays)
    8 a.m. to 4:15 p.m.

    We can look up your address, and help you determine if you're a candidate for the Development Permit exemption before you apply.

    2. You can enter your address on our Secondary Suite page. After entering your address, if the results in step one are to obtain a:

    Development Permit: your property is eligible for a suite. You must now meet all remaining requirements (dimensions, parking, etc) to be eligible for the Development Permit exemption.


    Land Use Redesignation: you'll need to apply and obtain approval from City Council to change your land use before you can apply for a secondary suite. Learn more

    How much time and money might the Development Permit exemption program save homeowners developing a secondary suite?

    It is estimated applicants will save about a month in the permit application process and an estimated $2,200 in expenses from permit fees and drawings.

    How long will the Development Permit exemption pilot program last?

    This pilot program is expected to last 18 months - until March 3, 2017.


Planning Services Call Centre

Monday through Friday (Closed Holidays) 8 a.m. - 4:15 p.m.


Ready to Apply?

Book an Appointment

3rd Floor Municipal building 800 Macleod Trail SE Calgary, Alberta, Canada