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Infill construction bylaws and regulations

 

Important terms

Infill: Home construction sites in established neighbourhoods. This inclu​des multi-residential complexes.

Swale: A depressed area, like a channel or gutter. Swales are helpful in directing runoff through a community to the nearest catch basin and into the storm system. Concrete swales commonly run along the back or side of residential properties. Grass swales, seen as a ditch between properties along the sideyard, are another way for runoff to travel to the front or back of the lot and to the storm system.

Eavestrough: A gutter fixed beneath the edge of a roof. Eavestroughs collect water on the roof coming from precipitation (rain, snow, sleet or hail) and drain it to the ground along downspouts.

Infill construction

New home construction sites in established neighbourhoods are typically referred to as “infill construction” and may pose a few more challenges than those in newly developed areas. The construction process, including the demolition of the existing home, potential asbestos abatement and open excavations may cause concerns for neighbours and the community.

Some challenges include:

  • Public safety on and around construction/building sites, unsafe and derelict buildings
  • Damage to neighbouring property including sidewalks, fences and landscaping
  • Improper drainage
  • Broken sidewalks
  • Damage to established trees, especially their roots

Do you have a concern related to an infill construction project? Please submit an online inquiry or contact 311​.

The City of Calgary is partnering with builders and the public to help ensure new home construction in established neighbourhoods is both a safe experience and a positive influence on Calgary's vibrant inner city communities. Our goal is to help build balanced neighbourhoods that contribute to community vitality, ensure public safety and offer a variety of housing options for Calgarians.

Public safety

Property owners and builders must consider public safety during all stages of demolition, excavation and construction. Proactive communication with the community early in the process can help you understand the needs, priorities and concerns that are important to residents, and help the project move forward efficiently and effectively. Implement construction industry best practices to avoid potential safety issues and public concerns.

Communication

It is not only the builder or worker who is responsible for public safety; the responsibility for safety is shared by everyone, including members of the public, whether you live next door to an infill or you are just passing by.

Sharing information in the project's early stages is important to help avoid potential conflicts between the builder and neighbours down the road. We suggest that the builder provide information via a door-to-door mail drop for both residential and non-residential neighbours prior to the project start. A comprehensive letter or information package could include information about the project scope, the amount and extent of impact to residents, and the completion time frame. There should be open communication between all parties as well as a mutual understanding on both sides. The owners and builders need to understand and appreciate the feelings of upheaval and concern from neighbours, while neighbours should understand and appreciate the length of time and effort the owner or builder requires to complete the work. The builder needs to move the project forward as quickly and smoothly as possible to avoid costly overruns or delays.

Early communication with The City is also important to prevent project delays. Owners and builders are required to follow Alberta’s safety codes and City regulations. If you are unsure or require clarification, call The City by contacting 311. Approvals beyond a development permit are sometimes required from various City departments.

Public safety

Fencing

As soon as demolition or construction activity begins and the site is no longer attended by workers, the site must be fenced. A continuous fence (i.e., metal, 1.8 m high) must be installed around the construction site, however, it cannot extend beyond any property lines, both public and private, unless it is tree protection fencing that has been authorized by The City. If the fence must cross a property line, it is the owner or builder’s responsibility to follow up with the adjacent property owner. If the neighbouring property owner refuses, it remains the owner/builder’s responsibility to find an alternate way to install the safety fence. This fence must remain in place:

  • Until the site is graded (foundation is backfilled) and clean of material and debris.
  • Until all openings in the structure up to 3 m above grade have been secured (windows and doors installed) and shingling is complete.
  • If there are climbable structures nearby such as scaffolding or ladders.
  • If there are any open excavation areas. Excavations should be backfilled and graded in order for fencing to be removed.
  • Anytime the site is unattended. In this case, unattended means where the owner, builder or workers are not physically present on site. If the entire group leaves for any reason, the site must be re-secured.

Sidewalks and roads

As the owner/builder, it is your responsibility to remove snow and ice from public sidewalks and maintain public walkways. Thaw and runoff can add layers of ice to sidewalks and must be removed. You should not block public access to roads, sidewalks or lanes without the appropriate permits and approvals. Permission can be obtained through applying for a City of Calgary street use permit which, if granted, must be posted on site and clearly visible to the public.

In the event of an emergency, Emergency Medical Services and the Calgary Fire Department are required to have a safe route into and out of the site. A well-maintained site helps ensure rapid response without a risk to emergency responders.

Neighbouring properties

Damage to adjacent properties or structures is not permitted, however damage does occasionally occur. In these situations, it is the owner/builder's responsibility to provide written confirmation of assurance to the affected neighbour as to how the damage will be be repaired as well as initiating discussion with the impacted property owner.

The owner/builder of an infill is responsible for any damage to adjacent property (public or private) caused by them or their sub-trades during the course of construction. This information is important to share with site workers. In the event of damage, it is also important to communicate how and when repairs will be made.

Additional considerations:

  • Do not trespass onto private property for any reason without written authority from that property owner.
  • Do not connect to a neighbour’s power outlets or hose bibs without written approval from the owner - a tenant/renter approval is not sufficient.
  • Mobile equipment like zoom booms (a type of long-reach forklift) or cranes may not swing or extend over adjacent private property without appropriate approval from the neighbouring property owner.
  • When excavating, proper soil stabilization procedures are required, which may include an engineered shoring system to protect workers and adjacent homes and structures.

Signage

Provide contact information for inquiries and concerns. The City provides each permit holder with an orange “Construction Site Contact Information” sign. The purpose of the sign is to give the owner or builder the opportunity to deal with challenges before the concern is sent to The City. It also prioritizes how a concerned citizen should report unsafe site conditions.

Site management and maintenance

Ensure construction material and debris are properly secured or contained. Loose items can easily become windborne and pose a public safety hazard. The unsafe use of tools or material may cause these items to fall, which also may pose a hazard to public safety. As a builder or worker, you are responsible for any damage caused as well as possibly face charges under the Safety Codes Act.

  • Stack and/or secure construction material to allow for appropriate and safe movement onto or off of the site.
  • Ensure that debris is not allowed to unreasonably accumulate on site and is disposed of safely and appropriately, minimizing the risk of overflow or becoming windblown.

Asbestos

The Province of Alberta, Occupational Health and Safety regulates the removal and disposal of materials containing asbestos; however, The City requires the owner or builder to complete an asbestos abatement form when the permit application for demolition is made. On the asbestos abatement form, the owner or builder must state if the structure(s) contain asbestos and if it does, that it has been abated (removed and disposed), or will it be abated in accordance with Occupational Health and Safety guidelines. If it does not, sometimes proof of a negative asbestos test result is required. Without the form, the permit cannot be issued. Once the permit has been issued, demolition cannot commence until the property has been inspected by a City safety codes officer who will review the documentation to ensure the site is in compliance for demolition. Once approved to proceed, the demolition contractor may begin to demolish the building.

Excavation and trenching

The excavation and any trenching will typically follow the demolition. Occasionally, the owner will keep the existing foundation, which is cost effective. Excavation is needed to allow for the basement foundation walls and footings and must extend down to solid, undisturbed soil. Once the foundation wall is poured it has to cure sufficiently before the soil can be backfilled.

The builder must ensure that either the soil conditions are suitable for construction activities, in which case shoring would not be required, or provide appropriate shoring methods, which may include an engineered shoring system to protect workers, adjacent homes and structures.

Public safety for neighbours

  • Call 911 immediately if an emergency or imminent risk to public safety exists.
  • Contact 311 if a serious, unsafe condition exists.
  • Generally the soil kept from the excavating to be used for backfill remains on the site. This can pose significant attraction for children, but these “spoil piles” are far more dangerous than fun. They must be within the construction site and within the fencing. If people find their way into the site and you cannot reach the builder, immediately contact 311 to initiate an “urgent safety response” call or if an incident has already occurred, call 911 for police, fire or EMS emergency response.
  • If there is a less urgent issue, we suggest that you give the owner or builder a first chance to correct the situation. If they can’t/won’t/or you are unable to reach them, contact 311.
  • Contact the builder if you have questions or concerns. Their contact information should be posted on an orange sign on the property. Give them the opportunity to explain the process.

Community regulations

Site maintenance

Homeowners are generally responsible for their property, adjacent boulevards, sidewalks and the alley adjoining their property. 

  • In general, loose garbage, yard waste and other materials must be stored so that they are not visible from outside the property.
  • Property owners must ensure fences and structures on their property are in good repair and are not a safety hazard.
  • Property owners must take reasonable precautions to ensure that smoke, dust or other airborne matter does not escape the property.
  • Grass must not exceed 15 centimetres (6 inches).

Noise

The operation of power tools in residential areas may only occur:

  • Monday to Saturday, 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.
  • Sunday and statutory holidays, 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Construction vehicles, including concrete mixers, cannot be loaded or unloaded within 150 metres of a residential development between the hours of 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. Monday through Saturday and 10 p.m. and 9:00 a.m. on Sundays and statutory holidays.

During daytime operation, the operator must ensure that a vehicle does not remain running if the loading or unloading at a residential development will take longer than 20 minutes. See the Community Standards Bylaw for exceptions to this rule.

Use of streets

Sidewalks

Owners are required to repair the boulevard area or replace damaged sidewalks and curbs on the adjacent street to the property at the completion of construction.

Property owners/occupants are responsible for maintaining a sidewalk or pathway that runs in front of or along the side of the property adjacent to a street. Snow and ice must be removed from that portion of the sidewalk of pathway within 24 hours of a snowfall.

Roads

Vehicles, materials or objects used for a building construction or maintenance operation parked or stored on a street require permits from the Calgary traffic engineer.

The permit holder may be required to maintain a fenced enclosure around the portion of the affected street and post warning signs around the work area.

Electrical cords, hoses, chains or other similar items must not be placed across any portion of a street.

Property owners must ensure that any loose material that is stored, placed or disposed of does not enter onto a street by any means, including natural forces.

A permit holder for a development adjacent to a street must ensure that mud, dirt or other construction debris is not transferred onto a street.

Construction activities occurring adjacent to a street must not block the vision of any pedestrian signals or other traffic controls.

A permit holder must also ensure that temporary traffic controls around the construction site adjacent to a street are properly in place before construction begins and are removed from the street when the project is completed.

A permit may also be required if the use of the street results in any rerouting of bus stops or transit services.

Property owners must ensure that adequate supports are in place at the site of an excavation to prevent damage on the surface of an adjacent street. If The City has identified a concern that the excavation may create a danger to citizens using the street, the property owner may be required to obtain an indemnification agreement, with the necessary certificate of insurance, removing liability from The City for any loss or damage resulting from the excavation.

You cannot operate a slow moving vehicle (including any vehicle or equipment designed for use at speeds less than 40 kilometres per hour) on a street on any day between 7 a.m. and 8:30 a.m., or between the hours of 4 p.m. and 6 p.m., except on a Saturday or a holiday.

While driving a motor truck or other motor vehicle with a box or body filled with sand, gravel, rocks, earth or other loose materials, the owner or operator of a vehicle must ensure no loose material can escape on a City street or on land in the vicinity of a City street.

Parking

The operator or owner of a vehicle must obey time periods for parking any vehicle on any roadway or public place.

Vehicles may not be stopped or parked on either side of any alley in front of or within 1.5 metres of a driveway or garage entrance entering into an alley.

During a snow route parking ban, parking will be temporarily restricted on designated snow routes for up to 72 hours. The owner or operator must not park on a snow control route while a snow event is in effect.

The traffic engineer is authorized to temporarily prohibit parking on any street or portion of any street in order to facilitate a City street maintenance operation including street cleaning. The owner or operator must not park on a street during a parking prohibition.

Trees and shrubs

Cutting, removing, or pruning public trees without authorization from City of Calgary Parks is prohibited. This includes impact to roots. A tree is considered public if any portion of the trunk occurs on City-owned land. Contact 311 to find out if trees located at the front of a property belong to The City or the owner.

Note that development permit approval does not include approval to remove or prune public trees, nor does it include tree protection plan approval. If work is being completed within 6 m from the trunk of a public tree (including access routes), contact Urban Forestry to obtain necessary approvals.

Property owners are required to submit a tree protection plan to Calgary Parks for approval when work is within 6 m of a public tree. The tree protection plan should outline how construction work is to be accomplished and the steps that will be taken to preserve public trees.

All practical measures to protect public trees and shrubs should be undertaken. Site design should take existing public trees into consideration. Important things to consider include the location of new sidewalks and deep services, which should be outside the extent of branches (dripline) of trees.

Owners are required to compensate The City for any loss or damage to public trees and may also be subject to fines under the Tree Protection Bylaw.

Owners are also responsible for damage if any part of trees, shrubs or other types of landscaping is located on neighbouring property.

For more information, visit protecting trees during construction and development.

Water drainage

Residential lots are generally defined by a street at the front of the lot and a lane at the back. All streets, lanes, and concrete storm swales (generally at the backs of properties) are considered City right-of-ways and must be protected from damage and kept clear of debris and blockages.

Streets and lanes provide a conveyance route to keep stormwater away from buildings and directed to the storm system. Proper lot drainage consists of sloping the land within a property in such a way to direct the flow of surface water away from all building foundations, like your house, your garage, your neighbour’s house and garage, and towards the street, lane or swale.

When both lots have positive drainage away from foundations, it creates a natural low spot (or swale) between homes that directs runoff to the front and back of the property.

Having landscaped areas on your lot can help water absorb into the ground. It can evaporate or filter so it carries less sediment into the storm system.

Stormwater management during construction

When a lot is under construction, stormwater should be managed in such a way as to avoid negative effects to neighbouring homes. Some things for builders to consider:

-  Develop and follow an erosion sediment control plan

Sedimentation is the settling out of soil particles transported by water or wind. Settling of soil particles depends on the size of the particles. For example, gravel and coarse sand will settle out quickly compared to clay particles, which often take a longer period of time due to their weight.

When fine sediment ends up in our river, it can have a negative impact on our aquatic environment. To keep our fish and wildlife healthy, we need to be proactive in employing best management practices and controlling sedimentation at the source. The Drainage Bylaw prohibits sediment-laden (muddy) water from being discharged to the storm system.

An erosion sediment control (ESC) plan is a drawing that maps out areas where measures need to be taken to avoid muddy water leaving the site and entering into our storm system and waterways. Some measures can include placement of filter fabric, silt fence, slope stabilization, erosion blankets, erosion socks and donuts; tools that are used to keep dirt, mud, debris and dirty water from leaving the site. Contouring of the site can also be done to provide low spots for muddy water to collect and settle within the property boundaries. If collected water needs to be pumped off site, a pumping permit from The City is required, and the water must meet certain quality requirements ahead of being discharged. The ESC plan helps organize the construction work that needs to occur while showing how the site is to be properly contoured at all times in a way that limits mud, water and debris from leaving the site and causing negative effect to neighboring properties and our storm system. For more information on best practices for minimizing erosion and sediment during construction activities, visit our Guidelines for Erosion and Sediment Control.

​-  Good grading practices

The site may change often depending on the stage of the construction process. When grass and vegetation are removed from a site, there is a higher risk that muddy water will leave the site, and protection must be put in place to avoid muddy water being discharged into our storm system and to our rivers. The ground should always be contoured in such a way that surface water is directed away from all foundations of buildings (including your neighbour’s house and garage) and towards defined areas like ditches or low areas on your property where water can collect and sediment can settle out.

-  Managing roof water

When residential buildings are under construction, there may be stages when parts of the building are not in place. When a roof is under construction, it may take a while before eavestroughs and downspouts are in place to direct the precipitation that falls onto the roof to the front or back of the property. Creating a natural swale or low elevation channel along the side yard of the lot can help ensure that precipitation is directed to the designated muddy water collection areas during construction, and to the street, lane or swale once construction is complete. Eavestroughs should be installed as quickly as possible so that rain and precipitation landing on the roof of the house does not shed off the roof and directly towards your neighbour’s buildings. Temporary eavestroughs or other measures can be used to help direct roof precipitation during construction. It is best to refer to a professional to help identify what measures would work best for your construction project.

-  Good construction housekeeping

Right-of-ways must be kept clear of all debris all the time. Do not place sheds, steps, or other materials on top of concrete swales. Maintain the contouring leading to these features so that runoff can drain away from buildings on your lot and be directed to the storm system during a rainstorm. During construction, there is often debris, excess mud or sedimentation created that can clog these right-of-ways. Remove all debris, including mud, from gutters, streets, lanes and swales in order to protect your home and community from flooding during rain events, and ensure that runoff is able to travel to the storm system as it was designed.

Frequently asked questions

Why does The City allow a builder allowed to demolish a home?

Builders, including contractors and homeowners doing their own work, may not begin any construction work until the City permits have been issued. They may mobilize and deliver material, but the actual work may not start until all permits are in place and approved.

What rights do I have as a neighbour to an infill construction site?

Not only do we want to see healthy and safe development, we also want to ensure the rights of neighbours. Builder activities may not cross a property line causing damage to an adjacent property (private or public) without fully repairing or remediating that damage at their expense. While we recommend the builder provides assurances in writing, the Safety Codes Act still supports the affected neighbour to ensure repairs are done.

What rights do I have as a builder of an infill construction site?

A builder has the same rights as a neighbour.

Related bylaws

 

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