Development Permit Process
The City is responsible for ensuring the safety and health of all Calgarians, as well as determining and implementing the rules and regulations that help to create meaningful and highly valued spaces in our city. The City’s Planning & Development department focuses on making certain that new developments align with the rules and regulations set out in both the Land Use Bylaw (LUB) and the Alberta Building Code.
All land in Calgary is divided into districts, or zones. Each district has its own set of development rules. The Land Use Bylaw lists these rules, which were established in part to ensure that everyone has an opportunity to seek approval for a development project as well as express concerns about a project. A development permit confirms that all the rules and planning policies have been considered. It provides a means through which neighbours, community associations and other affected individuals and organizations can provide feedback.
Not all projects require a development permit and are listed in section 25 of The Land Use Bylaw. Projects not included in the list of exemptions require a development permit because they pose a change to the property or are outside the standard rules established for that district.
To find out what rules and regulations apply, enter the property address in the information tool to determine the land use district. Once you have this information, refer to the Land Use Bylaw for specific information.
What are the steps in the development permit process?
Who makes decisions on development permit applications?
The role of Planning & Development is to plan and facilitate building a great Calgary – for now and into the future. Guided by our corporate vision (Municipal Development Plan), which is based upon Council approved policies and bylaws, we strive to meet the aspirations of communities in a business-friendly, customer-focused and empathetic way. This requires balancing the needs of today with the vision for tomorrow.
Administration must take into consideration the application's planning merits, applied against the Land Use Bylaw and applicable policies, while balancing the needs of the community. Based on these considerations, Administration:
- makes a decision as the approving authority; or
- makes a recommendation of approval or refusal to Calgary Planning Commission (CPC) who serves as the Approving Authority on all subdivision matters and Development Authority on some, generally larger and more complex, development matters.
Following a decision by Administration or CPC on the application, applicants have the opportunity to file an appeal with the Subdivision & Development Appeal Board (SDAB) or the Municipal Government Board (MGB).
The SDAB and the MGB are independent, quasi-judicial bodies that were created by the Provincial Government. After holding a hearing, the SDAB or MGB may confirm, revoke or vary the decision of the Development Authority or the Subdivision Authority.
To find which appeal board to file with, please view the application in the Development Map (under the Status Tab).
Visit calgarysdab.ca or www.alberta.ca/municipal-government-board-overview.aspx for more information.
Details for applicants
Utility information is available at Calgary.ca/development. This will save you time in the project design and scope phase and will likely eliminate the need for a pre-application meeting. It will also help you submit a more complete application when you’re ready. The utility layer on the map includes sanitary, storm, water line assignments, hydrant locations, rim elevations, pipe sizes, pipe lengths and pipe slopes.
Be a good neighbour and consider talking to neighbours and other community members about your development ideas before you submit an application. There are many reasons why you may want to involve the community or reach out to let them know about a new development project you are contemplating. For more information visit the Application Outreach Toolkit (Calgary.ca/PlanningOutreach).
Your plans may be directed to a specialized bylaw review group which will cross-reference the proposed development against the Land Use Bylaw rules. This group may need to make mathematical calculations based on your plans. For businesses going into commercial or industrial bays, the bylaw review group may need to order historical files to check the parking history before they can calculate site parking.
A temporary sign may be placed on your property to let neighbours and/or nearby businesses know about your application. Neighbours are invited to send comments directly to your file manager.
Comments from your community association, Councillor or other third parties such as Enmax may be required. These groups are given 21 days to submit comments to your file manager.
While your application is undergoing the bylaw review, notice posting and circulation, your file manager begins the review, and may visit the property you are proposing to develop. The file manager will:
- Assess the context and character of the neighbourhood.
- Research relevant planning policies and apply them as required.
- Check for applicable provincial planning legislation that may impact the application.
- Receive and respond to comments from the public and the circulation groups.
Lastly, your file manager will analyze all materials and prepare a written, detailed review. At this step, you may be asked to make changes to the plans or submit additional information. Time will be provided to respond.
After the detailed review is complete, your file manager will prepare the rationale and reasons for the decision. You will be notified as soon as the decision is made to either approve or refuse the application. If you disagree with the decision, an appeal can be filed with the Subdivision and Appeal Board (SDAB) within 21 days.
Similar to the SDAB, the Municipal Government Board (MGB) hears appeals of decisions made by The City of Calgary subdivision and development authorities; however, the MGB only hears specific types of appeals that relate to provincial interests. You may file an appeal to the MGB by emailing email@example.com.
To find out which board you should appeal to, you can check the development permit information on the public notices page. If you are unsure which board to submit an appeal to, either board will accept appeals and transfer the appeal to the correct board.
To expedite the process, some development permit applications are approved prior to you submitting required information and/or payments. This allows you to apply for a building permit, saving time. Your file manager must wait until you complete the prior-to-release conditions before releasing the permit.
If no appeals have been filed, and there are no outstanding requirements, the development permit will be released. At this step, if you have a building permit under review, you may let the plans examiner know that your development permit has been released.
Development permit timelines vary based on:
- the proposal’s complexity
- the degree of impact to the surrounding community
- when public comments are submitted to your file manager
- when you submit information to your file manager
Discretionary development permits will take additional processing time, as they generally require additional circulations as well as an advertising and appeal period.
The City is committed to providing applicants with a timely response.
Helpful advice and tips for your application
- provide plans that are drawn to professional standards
- obtain letters of support from neighbours and the community association (if required)
- submit proposals that either comply with the LUB rules or seek a minor relaxation
- when seeking a relaxation, please provide reason for why the rules should be relaxed
- submit additional plans and information quickly upon request
For general information about active or recently approved development permits, please visit calgary.ca/development.