Food Production and Growth - business guide
Businesses that create a certain product under the Indoor food production and growth category are required to obtain a City of Calgary business licence.
Examples of businesses that do require municipal licensing:
- Modular/Freight Farms
- Vertical Farming
Food production includes fruits, vegetables, mushrooms, flowers, fiber, seeds, nuts, seedlings, herbs and fish. It includes management practices and activities such as cultivation, harvesting, storing, sorting, cleaning and packaging.
Food production does not include products regulated by the Controlled Drug and Substances Act (e.g. cannabis).
New amendment: The activity of raising insects was added to the Food Production use in the Industrial – General (I-G) and Industrial – Heavy (I-H) districts.
New - Urban Agriculture
A new Urban Agriculture land use was created under the Land Use Bylaw to accommodate businesses that grow plants outdoors for a commercial purpose.
Urban Agriculture activities do not need a development permit where there is:
- No required landscaping being removed;
- No local food sales on-site; and
- Where there is a maximum of one ancillary building 10 square metres or less (e.g. a small shed that does not require a building permit).
If a greenhouse is larger than 10 square metres, a development permit and a building permit are required.
Local food sales
As part of Urban Agriculture, a development permit is required to sell food grown on a site. The development permit process reviews the location, hours of operation, and other applicable policies.
If the local food sales are occurring on City-owned land or City-owned facilities, a development permit may be exempt with permission by The City, but the location, hours of operation and other policies will still be determined through this permission process.
Rules and regulations
- Indoor food production does not include products regulated by the Controlled Drug and Substance Act (e.g. cannabis)
- Guide to Food Safety contains federal rules on the use of pesticides, packaging, processing and labelling
- Alberta Marketing Commission also regulates production, processing and marketing of most foods.
- Alberta Health Act and Food Regulation regulates the preparation and sale of food to the public.
Consider your required approvals
Once you apply for your business licence, outstanding approvals must be completed before the business licence is issued.
A business licence will often have multiple licence types associated with it. Below is a chart of all the related licence types that fall under this business activity. If your business requires multiple licence types, approval processes are only generated once per licence. For example, only one fire inspection is required even if multiple licence types require that inspection.
Required approvals chart
|Licence Type||Land use||Police||Fire||Health||Provincial||AMVIC||ID card|
|Food Service - Premises||Required||Not required||Required||Required||Not required||Not required||Not required|
All businesses in Calgary require land use approval. Each space in a building has its own specified, approved use that cannot be changed without an approval, permit or both.
You can also refer to Commercial, industrial and mulit-residential for more information, or contact our Planning Services Centre at 403-268-5311 to investigate land use approval for your business.
Most businesses that operate from commercial premises require an inspection from the Fire Prevention Bureau before the licence can be issued. However, if a business licence is for one, or any combination, of the low fire-risk licence types, it can be issued if only the Fire approval is outstanding. Low fire-risk businesses will require to get the fire inspection within 30 days of their licence being issued.
Before you book your inspection, you must be ready for business, which means:
- Applicants must be in possession of the space/site
- The business is ready to serve customers (e.g. shelves are stocked and fixtures are in place)
To book your inspection, you must contact 311 with your Business Identification (BID) number request a Fire Inspection for Business Licence. It can take up to five business days for an inspector to visit the space, therefore you should call one week prior to being ready for business. See the Fire Department Business Licence Checklist to see what is required for your inspection.
The Fire Prevention Bureau will notify the Licence Division with the results of the inspection.
This inspection must be performed by the Fire Prevention Bureau inspectors. This approval is in addition to any inspection done by the firefighting division, such as the occupancy inspection completed on your building permit.
An Alberta Health Services (AHS) location inspection is required to ensure public safety. Any business involving the sale, preparation, manufacturing or storage of food products requires this inspection. Any business involved in personal service such as aesthetics or massage is also required to have this inspection. Contact AHS at 403-943-2288 for more information and to book a date.
Inspection results can be submitted:
- In person at the Planning Services Centre:
800 Macleod Trail S.E.
- By email: firstname.lastname@example.org
If AHS advised you that your business type does not require a health inspection, please record the name of the individual you spoke with, their telephone number, and the reason provided. Please provide these details to The City’s Planning Services Centre.
For business licence fees, see the Business Licence Fee Schedule. The business licence fee schedule is broken down by licence type. If your business requires multiple licence types, the highest category fee will be charged.
These fees do not include the costs related to required permits to meet land use approval, or any third-party approvals or inspections that may be required to obtain your licence.
How to apply
If you need help when completing your application Live Chat with us, 8 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. Monday to Friday.
Obtaining your business licence
A business license will be issued when all outstanding approvals are complete. If you wish to inquire about the status of your licence, please contact the Planning Call Centre at 403-268-5311.
The authorized business licence will be sent to the applicant in the mail, or if requested, can be held at our permit pick-up counter. When a commercial business is operational, the physical copy of your business licence must be posted in a highly visible location where the public can easily see it.
If you intend to make any changes to your business after receiving your licence, please visit Manage your business for more information.
How long is my licence good for?
Business licences expire one year from the issuance date. Forty-five days before the licence expires, a notice is mailed out advising the licensee of the expiry date. Any outstanding fines must be paid prior to renewal.
Business ownership changes
A business licence or business ID is not transferable from one person to another or from one person's business premises to another.
A business operating from more than one location requires a separate business licence for each premises.
Licence type combinations
To ensure the proper approvals are generated for a business, multiple licence types may be attached to a single business licence. For example, a cabinet maker would require a manufacturer licence type; if the business is also installing the cabinets, a contractor licence type is required. Both licence types will appear on the same business licence document and only one renewal will be required.
All charitable organizations must be associated with another licenced business activity. Approval must be granted by the province before applying for a municipal licence.
Businesses not eligible for a charity status:
- Alcohol beverage sales
- Tobacco retailer
All fundraising activity is governed by the charitable fundraising act. Charitable organizations that are only fundraising should contact Service Alberta, Consumer Services at 1-780-427-4088 or 1-877-427-4088.
All applicants for this licence type should first consult with the province about eligibility for this designation and register their business, prior to applying for a municipal business licence. Contact Service Alberta at 1-780-427-4088 (or toll free in Alberta only at 1-877-427-4088) for more information.