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Other permits for businesses

A business may require other permits in addition to a business licence, depending on the type of business and location. Below is information on the most common types of additional permits. Visit special events​ for permit requirements, bylaw regulations and other information applicable to events on private property.

Outdoor patios and cafes

Outdoor patios add to the vibrancy of Calgary communities and are encouraged throughout the city, especially in our Main Streets areas. Rules for establishing and operating an outdoor patio is regulated by the Land Use Bylaw 1P2007, which defines an outdoor patio (or outdoor cafe) as “a use where food or beverages are served or offered for sale for consumption on a portion of the premises which are not contained within a fully enclosed building.” This web page contains information for business owners interested in establishing or expanding an outdoor patio, including adding a pop-up patio.

Most new outdoor patios (except those on Stephen Avenue or Barclay Mall) require a development permit (DP). If the outdoor patio/outdoor cafe crosses your property line and extends onto public property (like a pop-up patio), you will also require a license of occupation (LOO). Additional permits, licenses and inspections will be required depending on factors such as the extent and value of construction, amount of seating, whether alcohol is served, etc.

While new layout configurations and locations are considered during the review process, public safety, residential concerns and legal requirements are a priority. The City is required to limit the number of patios that occupy street parking spots and hinder pedestrian traffic.

Each project is unique and will have different approval requirements. As a first step, we recommend phoning the Planning Services Centre at 403-268-5311. We will arrange a pre-application meeting with a senior planning technician who will guide you through the required processes.

Use the planning applications fee calculator or the 2018 Business License Fee Schedule to learn about the costs.

Next steps

  1. Before investing in design plans, consult with neighbours, community groups and provincial regulators (see Contacts sheet). Their input could influence your set up and alert you to possible future project concerns.

  2. When you have a rough layout, contact 311 to determine if you need a development permit, building permit, trades permit(s), fire inspection or an inspection for an occupant load card change. In addition, you may require all or some of the following approvals:
    • development completion permit
    • license of occupation
    • building occupancy permit
    • outdoor patio category added to your business license
    • alcohol beverage sales license
    • Alberta Health Services inspection

There are numerous factors that influence required approvals. Some examples include:

  • operation duration and seating capacity
  • patio location
    1. on private property or city sidewalk/curb lane
    2. on Stephen Avenue or Barclay Mall
    3. temporary extension to an existing space or new space altogether
  • construction scope including roof and walls, lights, heat or plumbing
  • value of construction costs - $5,000 is a threshold
  • type and nature of beverage and food offerings - will liquor service travel through an unlicensed area
  • patron entrance and exit points

A development permit is one of the more common permits that may be required.

Prepare your application

  1. For a development permit (DP), you will need eight copies of a site plan, floor plan and elevations, drawn to a professional drafting standard. Hiring an architect or designer is advised but not required. You will also need photos, certificates and other documents as listed in the Development Permit Application Requirement List.

  2. For a license of occupation (LOO), many of the same documents will be required, plus detailed plans including road right-of-ways (ROW) and dimensions of street features. Contact 403-268-5311 to set up a pre-application enquiry and talk with staff about the application requirements for your LOO.

Submit your application in person

Bring all required documents, along with your application fee to the Planning Services Centre. During summer months, we suggest booking an appointment. Book through the Planning Services Centre 403-268-5311 or via eAppointment.calgary.ca.

Licence of occupation​ (LOO) applications are not to be submitted in person. Contact the Planning Sevices Centre directly at 403-268-5311.

If your application is approved

  1. The decision is advertised for 21 days, and public appeals are accepted. During this period, you can apply for a building permit (if required). If no appeals are submitted, the Development Permit is released.

  2. Following release, you can have the outdoor patio license category added to your existing business license (fee associated).

After the patio is built, you are required to schedule a development completion permit inspection. You will also have to schedule final inspections for any other permits that were issued (building, trades, etc.), along with Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission approvals.

Common situations

  • If you already have a business licence, you will require another licence to open a patio. You will need to have the outdoor patio license category added to your existing business license. Once this is done, you will just need to renew the whole license on your regular schedule.

  • If you would like to add on to your existing licensed patio (perhaps for a special event), a development permit is usually not required if the addition is set up for three days or less. If the event it is set up for more than three days, a Special Function Class 2 development permit is required.

  • If you would like to place a table with a few chairs outside your establishment, a permit is required, even if you do not provide service to that table. A development permit and/or a license of occupation is required when a business activity expands outside the building.

City parks and public property

Generally, vendors wanting to set up in parks and public property outside of downtown are only permitted to operate as part of a major festival or event.

If your business wishes to participate in a City-approved festival or event on public roadways, pathways or parks, contact the festival organizers directly for permission.

Vendors at City-approved special events and festivals

If you are a vendor only participating in City-approved special events and festivals, you may not require a business licence. For operating requirements, visit Calgary Parks or email eventservices@calgary.ca for vendor pre-qualification details.

Booking park event space for your business

Businesses can book park space for special events or to allow for consistent access for organized activities (such as fitness classes) by obtaining a green space permit. These permits do not provide permission to sell services or allow vending within the park, nor do they provide exclusive use of the park space.

For more details or to book a park space, picnic site, meeting room or event facility, contact 311 or book through Parks.

Busking

Buskers provide street performances for public entertainment.

Visit Busking in Calgary for more information, including how to apply.

Sign permits

The City has requirements for signage based on the type of sign and its location. Below is an overview of sign types in Calgary.

Signs on private property

Signs cannot advertise the address or be placed in front of a home-based businesses.

Signs on private property are detailed and categorized by a classification list in the Land Use Bylaw.

Review the sign classes and rules before applying for a sign permit.

Signs on public property

Signs on public property, such as temporary signs, elections signs, garage sale signs, signs in parks and signs advertising a service must follow the Temporary Signs Bylaw​ rules.

Temporary signs

Location

A temporary sign cannot be:

  • Closer than 30 metres to an intersection, City bus shelter, transit bench, bus zone, LRT station or LRT platform.
  • Within 10 m of a crosswalk that is not at an intersection.
  • Closer than 2 m from a curb or edge of road.
  • On any traffic island or centre median.
  • Obstructing a traffic control device.
  • On any Prohibited or restricted roadway.
  • Hazardous to traffic or pedestrians.

Attachment

A temporary sign cannot be:

  • Attached to a standard street light pole, traffic signal pole or a City sign pole (except for posters).
  • Attached on or within a plus 15 bridge, pedestrian walkway or overpass.
  • Attached to a sound wall.
  • Permanently affixed.
  • Supported by string, rope, metal stakes or wire.
  • Damaging to municipal property.

In addition, a temporary sign is illegal if it:

  • Is placed on a decorative lamp post.
  • Could be a hazard to either the person erecting the sign or a member of the public.
  • Has a sign face larger than 0.6 square metres (3 m2 for election signage).
  • Is lit, electrified or inflatable.
  • Becomes unsightly.
  • Is placed on a fire hydrant.
  • Is displayed for more than 14 days before or more than 24 hours following the date of the advertised event, whichever is less.

Election signs have certain exemptions from the Temporary Signs Bylaw.

Banner signs over roadways

Banners attached to a pedestrian overpass are applied through the Roads’ epermit system. A temporary banner over a roadway will be considered if it:

  • Is promoting a non-profit, charitable cause or public event.
  • Is requested a minimum of four months prior to the desired install date.
  • The applicant provides:
    • An insurance certificate.
    • A Government of Alberta corporation non-profit search document.
    • A scaled detail drawing of the banner that follows the design requirements.

For more information, visit banner over roadway permit.

Garage sale signs

Garage sales can have up to three signs posted. These signs can only be up on the day before the day of the sale. Garage sale signs must include the owners name, address, phone number and date the sign was posted.

Signs in parks

Signs for businesses or services are not allowed in parks.

Licence of Occupation

When a business wants to use a public sidewalk or curb lane for an ‘Outdoor Café’ or ‘Pop up Patio’ a License of Occupation is required.  The first step is to set up a pre application inquiry by calling 403-268- 5311 and request a pre application inquiry for an outdoor café​.

The fee is listed under other applications in the Planning Applications Fee Schedule.

Street use permit

A street use permit is required to use any City road right-of-way and is issued to reserve street space for construction, moving or filming. The street use permit allows the use of a street, sidewalk, alley, walkway, back lane, boulevard or traffic control set-up.

To apply for a street use permit, contact 311 or use the Roads’ online permit system (for registered users).​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

Customer support

Monday - Friday
8 a.m. - 4:15 p.m.
Chat with us 403-268-5311
planninghelp@calgary.ca

Planning Services Centre,
3rd floor, Municipal building
800 Macleod Trail SE
 
 
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