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Digital message and other signs (Class E)

Application, bylaws, and design regulations for digital message, inflatable, painted wall, roof, rotating signs, and temporary sign mark​ers.

In addition to the sign types listed here, any type of sign that doesn’t fit within any of the bylaw sign types, and doesn’t include a digital display, falls within the Class E category. Class E signs are located on the same site as the b​usiness/activity that they are advertising.

When is a permit required?


All Class E signs require a development permit.

Generally, a development permit is NOT required to:

  • maintain or repair a legally existing sign
  • change or reduce the copy area of a legally existing sign​

How to apply


Step 1: Review the applicable checklist​ and sign rules

Step 2: Prepare your application

  • Complete the checklist
  • Review your fees
Planning Approval - Development Permit (prior to construction)

Permit fee Advertising fee Development Completion Inspection Total
​Permitted use (no relaxation) $​100 $​100​​
Discretionary use or relaxations required $669 $32 $163 $864

See the Planning Applications fee schedule​ for a complete list of planning application fees.

Step 3: Apply

Apply online

To apply in person, complete the sign application​ and visit the Planning Services Centre with the documents from the checklist in step 1. To skip the line, book an appointment​.

Rules


The regulations and rules regarding signage are intended to balance the need for signage with safety and aesthetics. These rules apply to signs on private property and are found in their entirety in the Land Use Bylaw 1P2007.​​

Rules for all signs

  • The sign position, shape, colour, format or illumination cannot resemble a traffic sign, signal or any other traffic control device.
  • Lights cannot be like those associated with danger or used by emergency services.
  • Trees or shrubs must not be removed or damaged to install a sign, make a sign more visible, maintain a sign, or to change the copy.
  • Signs in a residential area cannot be directly illuminated from a light source on the sign itself; however, they can be illuminated indirectly, such as a by a light shining on the sign. The light must not encroach onto adjacent spaces.

Rules for digital message and other signs

Digital message sign

This type of sign is a message sign containing a digital display, but not containing full motion video, or third party advertising.

  • Rules specific to commercial, industrial, mixed use, S-R, CC-ER or CR20-C-20/R20 districts:
    • Maximum sign area
      • five square metres when attached to a building
      • The lesser of 2.5 square metres or 30 percent of the window area where used as a window sign
      • 50 percent of the sign area of a freestanding sign
    • Must display a black screen from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. if visible from and located within 125 metres of a building containing a residence
  • Rules specific to low-density residential, multi-residential, CC-MH, CC-MHX, S-SPR, S-CS, S-CI, S-URP, CC-EMU, CC-ET, CC-EPR, CC-EIR, CC-ERR districts:
    • Only allowed if the sign advertises an event, activity, or service and is associated with one of the following uses:
      • Community Recreation Facility
      • Indoor Recreation Facility
      • Library
      • Museum
      • Outdoor Recreation Area
      • Park
      • All Place of Worship uses
      • All School uses
    • Maximum sign area of one square metre
    • Must display a black screen from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. if visible from and located within 125 metres of a building containing a residence
  • May have one digital message sign per property except for corner parcels which may have one sign facing each street
    • This does not apply if the sign displays only the date, time, temperature, parking information, fuel price, or a drive through menu board
  • Must not be located on a parcel adjacent to Deerfoot Trail, Spruce Meadows Trail, Stoney Trail, or any provincial highway when the copy on the sign is visible from these roads, unless it follows the following rules:
Table 1​​​ : 1: Maximum Digital Message Sign area facing the same oncoming traffic and minium distance from Deerfoot Trail, Spruce Meadows Trail, Stoney Trail or provincially controlled highway
​Maximum sign area (square metres) ​Minimum Distance from edge of payment to sign (metres)
​5.0 ​400
​4.0 ​350
​3.0 ​300
​2.0 ​250
​1.0 ​200
  *these rules cannot be relaxed
  • Must not be located on or attached to the roof of a building
  • Must not be larger than two square metres if the sign is located less than 30 metres from an intersection, pedestrian crosswalk, or railway crossing
  •  ​Power must be supplied underground
  • May display or acknowledge sponsors of activities or programs when the sign is associated with the following uses:

    •  Community Recreation Facility
    • Indoor Recreation Facility
    • Library
    • Museum
    • Outdoor Recreation Area
    • Park
    • All Place of Worship uses
    • All School uses
  • May only be approved for a maximum period of three years, expect where the sign displays only the date, time, temperature, parking information, fuel price, or a drive through menu board

Inflatable sign

A large, inflatable sign that can be a variety of shapes and sizes. They are expandable by using air or other gas, creating a three-dimensional display feature. They are often used to draw attention from people nearby. A maximum of 10 per cent of the sign can be text.

    • Not allowed if visible from major roadways or in pedestrian oriented areas; refer to the Land Use Bylaw Part 3, Division 5, Section 89(1) and (2)
    • Not allowed in the Stephen Avenue Mall heritage area
    • Must not be located on a roof
    • Must be tethered and touching the surface on which it is anchored
    • Must not extend higher than the maximum height allowed for a freestanding sign; refer to the Land Use Bylaw Part 3, Division 5, Section 97
    • Only one inflatable sign may be located on a property at any time and a maximum of two Inflatable signs are allowed per year
    • Can be displayed on a property for up to 30 days

Painted wall sign

A sign that is painted directly onto the exterior wall of a building, and can include copy that identifies the occupant of a building, unlike an art sign. May be located anywhere on a building wall.

    • If the sign is removed, the building wall must be refinished to match the building
    • No restrictions on the copy area
    • No restrictions on the designated sign area

Roof sign

A roof sign is installed on the roof of a building or in such a way that it projects above the top of a building.

    • Only allowed in commercial, industrial, mixed use, S-CI, S-SPR, and CR20/C20-R20 districts
    • May only identify the business or building occupant by name or logo
    • Supports and structures used must not be visible
    • The sign and any supports must not extend beyond the district maximum building height
    • The sign area of all roof signs on the same side of a building must be less than or equal to 2.5 per cent of the area calculated by multiplying the width of the building face by the building height from the bottom of the sign to grade

Rotating sign

This type of sign rotates or includes rotating features.

    • Rotating signs are only allowed in commercial or industrial districts.
    • It must not exceed the maximum height and sign area allowed for a freestanding sign; refer to the Land Use Bylaw, Part 3, Division 5, Section 97

Temporary sign marker

A temporary sign marker refers to a physical, delineated space on a property where temporary signs may be placed on an ongoing, rotational basis. A temporary sign marker must be approved and designated as a location for temporary signs.

    • Not allowed on major roadways or pedestrian oriented areas; refer to the Land Use Bylaw, Part 3 Division 5 Section 89(1)(2)
    • Must be:
      • Constructed of concrete, landscape pavers or similar hard surface material
      • Constructed of different surfacing than the surroundings so it clearly stands out
      • Always visible and clear of obstructions
      • A minimum of 0.4 square metres
      • Anchored or set into the ground
    • The number of temporary sign markers allowed on a property must match the number of temporary signs allowed – please refer to Basic Signs (Class A)​
    • Must not be located within 7.5 metres of motor vehicle access to the property
    • Must have an underground electrical power supply if a temporary sign will be illuminated
    • Must be located so that it is accessible from within the property in order to install, maintain, or remove the sign
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Development completion inspection

All discretionary signs and signs that require a relaxation of the Land Use Bylaw will need a development completion inspection to ensure the sign was installed in the correct location, and meets conditions of approval.

Development completion inspections can be booked through the Planning Services Centre.

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.

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