Land Use Bylaw: The Land Use Bylaw is the key tool used to regulate and control the use and development of all land and buildings in Calgary. It is at the heart of the development permit approval process and all land use redesignation applications.
Land use district: A designation or zoning term given to parcels of land within the city. It describes uses that are either permitted or discretionary, as well as specific rules for these districts as explained in the Calgary Land Use Bylaw.
Land use redesignation: A planning application to change the land use district of a property to allow for a particular development, also known as a land use amendment.
Before you start
A redesignation changes the land use district of a property to allow for a development that is currently not allowed. When applying for a land use redesignation, it is important to understand the Land Use Bylaw. Each land use district has a purpose statement that captures the intent of the area to guide applications. These statements will be considered when a land use redesignation is applied for and will be factored into the decision.
If redesignating for a particular use to be allowed on a property, consider the two different types of uses: permitted uses and discretionary uses. Applications can be accepted for all listed uses, but only permitted uses are guaranteed approval, as long as the proposal meets all of the Land Use Bylaw rules. Discretionary uses are approved based on the discretion of the Development Authority. As the property owner, you may be able to apply for redesignation on your own. Otherwise, you can enlist the help of an external professional planner to help you with the process.
For more information on land use districts, visit calgary.ca/districts.
Have you considered the cost associated with the application? Most redesignations with the purpose of having a secondary suite are exempt from application fees. For more information, view application fees.
Things to consider before applying
Changing a property's land use district may have implications for adjacent properties. For this reason, The City allows those who will be affected to make their concerns known.
Before you make an application for redesignation:
- Consider the benefits of first consulting with neighbours, the community association and your ward councillor.
- Ensure that you understand the time and cost involved in this type of application. If you are unsure of the potential fees, view the fee schedule.
- Ensure that you have chosen the most appropriate land use district, through consultation with The City.
- Ensure that your application is complete and accurate.
Applicants may find a pre-application meeting helpful, prior to formal application. Due to the complex and sometimes controversial nature of land use redesignations, pre-application enquiries are recommended. They can help highlight major issues with the proposal and identify supplemental technical information that will be required with the formal application.
There is no fee for enquiries that can be addressed by phone or e-mail. When representatives from Parks, Transportation and Development Engineering are required to review your proposal, this is considered a Corporate Planning Applications Group pre-application meeting and there is an associated fee. For more information, see pre-application meetings. To request a pre-application meeting, call our Planning Services Centre.
Land use redesignation process
The applicant may choose to meet with the community association and obtain support from neighbours before submitting the application.
A complete application is submitted in person by appointment. Incomplete applications will not be accepted.
Circulation and comments
The application is reviewed by the Corporate Planning Applications Group (CPAG) and circulated to relevant city business units, community associations, city councillors and other external agencies.
Adjacent landowners are notified of the application by mail. This notification invites landowners to submit comments regarding the application during the initial stages of review. A notice posting will be placed at the site, to further inform surrounding landowners of the application and allow for comment prior to the recommendation to the Calgary Planning Commission (CPC).
When evaluating proposals for land use redesignation, CPAG may take into account relevant plans and policies, context, the rational of the proposal and sound planning principles. Feedback from affected parties is considered as part of the application review.
Recommendation to the Calgary Planning Commission (CPC)
After the circulation process, the applicant will receive a detailed team review, which explains the recommendation for approval or refusal to the CPC. At this time, the applicant may address any issues to attain a more favorable recommendation before the meeting. Applicants are advised to attend the meeting, in case there are any questions directed towards them. The meeting is also open for the general public to attend but not participate.
For more information, visit calgary.ca/cpc.
Calgary Planning Commission recommendation to Council
Once the planning department has presented the application, CPC makes a further recommendation to City Council.
A public hearing must be held at the City Council meeting and the applicant will have the opportunity to address Council regarding their proposed land use redesignation.
Notification of public hearing
Following CPC's recommendation, details of the application and date of the public hearing with City Council are advertised in the Calgary Herald, at least 21 days prior to the hearing. Adjacent landowners are notified by mail and a notice is posted at the site again.
Following the public hearing, Council either approves, refuses or tables the proposed amendment. Tabling or referral to Administration may happen, to allow further engagement through a second or third reading before the final decision is made.
We’re committed to providing you with a timely response on your permit application.
The processing time depends upon the type and complexity of the application. Land use redesignation applications take a minimum of three months and usually about six months to process. It may be much longer if there are difficult policy or technical issues that need to be resolved.
Council's decision is final and binding. There is no opportunity to appeal Council's decision, unless the appeal is based on a matter of law (e.g. legally binding procedures were not followed).
When a land use amendment application has been refused by Council or withdrawn by the applicant after advertisement, the same application or a similar change in land use designation may not be reapplied for on the same property until six months has passed from the date of refusal or withdrawal of the application.
The redesignation process
Most redesignations to allow for building a secondary suite or backyard suite are exempt from fees. Fee exemption applies to property redesignations from R-C1 to R-C1s, R-1 to R-1s, and R-C1L to R-C1Ls. These applications will go through the full redesignation process. After the redesignation is approved, the appropriate permits will be required to prove compliance with the Land Use Bylaw and the Alberta building and fire codes. For more information, visit calgary.ca/secondarysuites.
Common reasons for application delay or refusal
Some common reasons for application delay or refusal are:
- Missing documents: make sure you thoroughly read the requirement list and print the additional documents requested on the forms.
- Incomplete plans: the requirement list indicates all the information needed on each drawing. For secondary suites, a Real Property Report can be used, but is not preferable. The myProperty map can be used by zooming in on the map to the property and printing it off. Don't forget to highlight the subject parcel.
- Incomplete forms: All forms must be filled out and signed, even if they seem like they aren't applicable to your application.
- If you are unsure of which district is best suited to your development or if your project is unique and doesn't fit within our regular land use districts, please set-up a pre-application meeting.
- Incorrect fees: Contact the Planning Services Centre to confirm the fee amount.
Please note: If going from a cirect control district to R-1s or R-C1s to build a secondary suite, fees will be charged. Council's directive to waive fees does not include direct control districts. However, a councillor may make a motion at the public hearing to have the fees waived. The applicant can contact their councillor to discuss this possibility.
How to apply
Applications are made by appointment only and must be in person. Only complete applications will be accepted.
Please call 403-268-6774 or 403-268-1898 to book your appointment.
In-person appointments take place at:
The City of Calgary
Planning & Development
4th floor, Calgary Municipal Building
800 Macleod Tr. S.E.
What documents do I need?
Thoroughly review the requirement list to determine what is required for your application. Detailed site plans are required for all applications.
The land use redesignation fee is based on the property size and the district that is being proposed.
The following redesignations are currently exempt from fees: RC1 to RC1s; R1 to R1s; RC1L to RC1Ls
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.