Fences & retaining walls
Step 1: Review
Do I need a permit?
Typically a permit is required if any of these conditions apply:
- In the rear yard it is higher than 2m (6’-6”)
- In the front yard it is higher than 1.2m (4’-0”)
- Inside a corner visibility triangle it is higher than 0.75m (2’-6”)
- The gate is higher than 2.5m (8’-2”).
In most situations a fence doesn't need a building safety approval (building permit). If your design or location does not meet land use bylaw specifications you will require planning approval (development permit).
Retaining wall or garden box:
- It is retaining 1.2m (4’-0") or more of soil, and
- The combined height of all retaining walls and garden boxes within 1m (3’-3") of each other is 1.2m (4’-0") or more.
In most situations retaining walls and garden boxes only require a building safety approval (building permit). If your design or location does not meet land use bylaw specifications you will also require planning approval (development permit).
Skateboard or sports ramp:
- It is more than 1.5m high, 5m wide, and 6m long, and
- It is not in a residential backyard, and
- It is less than 1.2m from the side and rear property lines, and
- It is attached to any other structures such as a fence, deck, garage, or shed.
In most situations a skateboard or sports ramp doesn't need a building safety approval (building permit). If your design or location does not meet land use bylaw specifications you will also require planning approval (development permit).
Hiring a contractor
|Planning approval - development permit (prior to construction)||Permit fee||Advertising fee||Development completion inspection||Total|
|Proposed land use bylaw relaxation for a fence or retaining wall||$384||$32||$163||$579|
See the planning applications fee schedule for a complete list of planning application fees.
|Building safety approval - building permit||Permit fee||Safety codes council fee (4%)||Total|
|New retaining wall||$202||$8.08||$210.08|
|Renovation to an existing retaining wall||$202||$8.08||$210.08|
See the building permit fee schedule for a complete list of planning application fees.
How long will it take to get a permit?
To avoid delays, make sure your application includes all the required documents, plans and information listed on the checklist:
Planning approval (Development permit)
|10 - 12 weeks|
Building safety approval (Building permit)
|Approx. 7 days|
When does my permit expire?
You will receive a permit expiry reminder in the mail. If you need more time, you can extend your permit. Review the extend or reinstate your permit section.
|Permit type||Expiry (from date of issuance)|
|Building permit||180 days|
|Contractor trade permit||330 days|
|Homeowner permit||330 days|
Step 2: Prepare
It is the responsibility of the applicant to ensure that the work being carried out conforms to any restrictive covenants, caveats or other restrictions that are registered on the land title.
Additional inquiries about building, plumbing, gas, electrical or heating, ventilation and air conditioning code or construction methods, building safety and fire regulations, please contact the Technical Assistance Centre or call 311. For all other inquiries (i.e. Land Use Bylaw), please contact our Planning Services Centre.
Use the information below to prepare your application. Follow the rules in the location, design and construction sections to help make sure your application meets the City's requirements.
Retaining walls 1.2 m or greater in height will require a development permit.
Garden boxes must follow the rules of a retaining wall when the garden box is holding back soil at grade level. Please refer to images provided.
Retaining walls and fence heights are measured from grade to the top of the fence:
Construction (Building code information)
Fences on private property that are in poor condition are handled by the Community Standards Bylaw. Contact 311 for more information.
In most situations where a fence has been built by a developer, a restrictive covenant is registered on the land title, outlining the property owner’s rights. Developer fences older than two years are no longer the responsibility of the developer. To see who is responsible after the developer, refer to your caveat.
For any questions regarded fences off roadways, parks and pathways, contact 311.
Skateboards and sport ramps are only allowed in a Low Density Residential or Multi-Residential District, if your land use district starts with an “R” or an “M”, backyard skateboard ramps are allowed, if they meet the rules. Refer to the myProperty map to confirm the rules that apply to your land use district. Higher density areas of the Centre City like the downtown do not have access to backyard ramps.
You will only require a development permit if the height restrictions are exceeded and the structure falls outside the maximum allowable size.
In most cases, a building permit is not required, as the structure would not be considered habitable
Please see a guide to skateboard and sport ramps for examples of various structures that fall under this category.
New fence construction is not permitted to extend onto City of Calgary property. Visit the encroachments page for more information.
Step 3: Apply
To apply online, you need a myID account. Create a myID account.
We’re currently experiencing higher than seasonal application volumes, we apologize for delays. To check the status of your permit, go to vista.calgary.ca and enter in your Job Access Code (JAC) number
Apply in person
Once you have gathered all required documents, you can apply for your permit in person by visiting the Planning Services Centre.
Complete application requirement
An application for a permit may be refused if, within ninety (90) days from the date of receipt, adequate information and documentation is not supplied as requested by the Safety Codes Officer. Should a permit be considered for refusal the applicant will be given notification in writing and 30 days to resubmit the missing information. For more information, please review Building Advisory A19-002 Building Permit Complete Application
Step 6: Inspect
Visit building inspections for information on how to book an inspection, cancel or reschedule, permit expiry and the applicable requirements for each inspection type.
Building permit inspections you will need
Framing (rough-in) inspection requirements:
- Complete the retaining wall.
- Install guards.
How do you book your inspections?
Visit building inspections for information on how to book, cancel or reschedule an inspection, permit expiry and the requirements for each inspection type.