Adding an outdoor patio to your business
Before you Apply
Use this page to help guide you through submitting a complete application. This page contains information for business owners interested in adding or expanding an outdoor patio.
Outdoor patios, also known as outdoor cafes or pop-up 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 are regulated by the Land Use Bylaw 1P2007. An outdoor café is defined 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.”
Getting a temporary or permanent patio
Watch the recording of our live Q&A on everything you need to know about the permitting and inspections process for building a temporary patio this summer.
The City of Calgary's temporary patio team will walk you through some important considerations like which permits you may need to apply for, how to apply and everything you need to know before getting started.
Start with your address
Do you need a permit?
Yes. Outdoor patios will always require a permit. The permits needed for you outdoor patio depends on where the patio is located:
|Year-round patio||Seasonal Patio (May 1- Oct 31*)|
|Your patio is located entirely on private property||Your patio is located on both public and private property||Your patio is located only on public property||Your patio is located entirely on private property||Your patio is located on both public and private property||Your patio is located only on public property|
|Licence of Occupation||No||Yes||Yes||No||No||No|
* Or until the snow flies – at least 3mm of snow is forecasted
For more detailed information on the process, review the outdoor patios process document.
What permits do you need?
Set up a pre-application by contacting our Planning Services Centre. We will arrange a pre-application inquiry (simple) and our Community Planning team will help you with this process. We will be in contact within 7 days to discuss your plans and next steps for your Outdoor Café.
Development permits are required for outdoor cafés on private property. Outdoor cafés are a discretionary permit. They require circulation, a notice posting, and a 21-day appeal period.
Please note that Development Permits are not guaranteed to be approved.
For more information, see the When is a Development Permit required section.
Permitted or Discretionary? What’s the difference?
In the Land Use Bylaw, Uses are defined as either being Permitted or Discretionary in a Land Use District.
Permitted means that, if a use meets all the rules of the bylaw, it must be approved. The uses listed as permitted were intended for this location and have little to no impact on the surrounding community.
Permitted with Relaxation means a use that is permitted but requires a relaxation of one of more bylaw rules. Evaluations are done on a case-by-case basis to determine if the relaxation is appropriate and how it impacts the surrounding community.
Discretionary use means that the use needs to be reviewed and is evaluated against several factors including applicable policies, appropriateness of the location, the compatibility of the use with others in the surrounding area, access, parking, servicing, and sound planning principles. Each submission is reviewed on its own merit at the time of application as discretionary uses have a higher impact on the surrounding community.
In some cases, a Building Permit will be required. Building safety approval is required to make sure that your proposed outdoor patio meets the building safety requirements. When you apply for your development permit, your plans will be circulated to our Building Safety team to determine if a building permit is required.
If the patio will be temporary or seasonal and located on public property, like the public sidewalk or in the parking lane, mobility will issue a temporary permit. Please review the Guidelines for Seasonal Patios located on public property document for guidelines and application requirements. Start the process by emailing patios@Calgary.ca
A Licence of occupation is issued by Real Estate & Development Services. This is the approval required for an outdoor patio that is not contained on private property, but rather on public property (sidewalk or road right-of-way). The outdoor patio will be in place year-round and may have permanent structures such as a pergola, glass roof or sea can and may involve services (electrical, heat). The approval is started through a Stream 3 pre-application inquiry. Start the process by contacting the Planning Services Centre and setting up a pre-application inquiry. Once the pre-application is set up, you will be contacted by a Senior Planning Technician to review the site and your plans for an Outdoor Café.
Separate trade permits are required for each trade (ie electrical, plumbing, gas and HVAC) and will need to be applied for by the appropriate trade contractor. Read more about Hiring a contractor.
How much will it cost?
For 2023, Development Permit and License of Occupation fees are waived to assist businesses during this transition year.
|Planning Approval - Development Permit (if applicable)||Fee schedule||Permit fee||Advertising fee||Development Completion Inspection||Outdoor cafés|
For online submissions with large permit costs, there is a deposit process in place that limits the amount paid online. For building permit fees over $10,000, only 25% of the base permit fee will be charged as an initial deposit, up to a maximum of $10,000. If 25% of the building permit base fee exceeds $10,000, you will be contacted to make payment for the remaining permit fee balance and any applicable additional fees (i.e. partial permit, lot grades, SCC, etc.) For example, if 25% of the permit fee is $25,000, you will pay a $10,000 deposit online and our Cash Office will contact you the next business day to make the payment for the remaining $15,000 of the deposit.
Please note, the remaining permit fees must be paid prior to a partial permit or the full permit being issued. In order to pay the remaining total, please choose one of the following payment methods and reference your permit number:
By Phone (only available by credit card):
In order to make payment over the phone by credit card please call 403-268-5311.
By Mail (only available for cheques):
The City of Calgary
Attention: Planning Cashiers- 8108
PO BOX 2100 STN M
Calgary, AB T2P 2M5
By Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT):
If you would like to pay by Electronic Funds Transfer you will select the payment option upon application. No fees will be processed at the time of the application intake. The Planning Cash Office will contact you the next business day and provide you with instructions to complete the EFT payment.
How long will it take?
To avoid delays, make sure your application includes all the required documents, plans and information listed on the checklist.
|Planning Approval - Development Permit||Our process||Timeline|
|Outdoor café on private property||
Review our Development Permit Process page for more information about the planning approval process.
When does your permit expire?
|Permit Type||Expiry (from date of issuance)|
|Development permit for permanent outdoor café (Changes to Site Plan)||As long as the Outdoor Café was set up before the ‘must commence by date’ the DP does not expire.|
|Development permit for seasonal outdoor café (Temporary Use)||
Expiry date will be outlined in the Development Permit description ie: Temporary Use: Outdoor Cafe (expires October 31, 2023). You will receive a permit expiry reminder in the mail.
|Temporary Permission||October 31st or whenever 3mm or more of snow is forecasted|
|Licence of Occupation||The expiry will be negotiated during the review|
Will you need professional involvement?
Professional architects or engineers
An architect or professional engineer may be required to design and inspect your project. Refer to the current Building Code, Division C, Section 2.4.2 or a consultant to determine if professional involvement is required. Where professional involvement is required, plans or documents must be stamped by the corresponding professional(s).
When is a Development Permit needed?
Most new outdoor patios require a development permit. 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 licence of occupation. Additional permits, licences 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 has a new program to allow patios on public sidewalks and in the parking lane during the patio season. Specific dates will be announced each year and will be outlined on your permit. Typically early May to early October.
Each project is unique and will have different approval requirements. As a first step, we recommend contacting our Planning Services Centre. We will arrange a pre-application inquiry (simple) and our Community Planning team will help you with this process.
If you would like to add on to your existing licenced 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.
What if I have an existing outdoor patio?
If you have an existing patio with an approved development permit (not temporary), the patio approval is permanent and does not need to be renewed. If you would like to increase the size of an existing patio an updated application is required.
Download the Outdoor Patio/Café Complete Application Requirement List to find out what you need for your application.
Tips for a Smooth Application Process
Before you apply:
- Before investing in design plans, consult with neighbours, community groups and provincial regulators. Their input could influence your set up and alert you to possible future project concerns.
- When considering if a seasonal patio will work for your location, evaluate if your site can still maintain pedestrian safety and accessibility. The temporary permission comes with conditions, including requirements from Alberta Health and Occupational Health and Safety.
- If the patio will be on the public sidewalk or parking lane, and is near an ENMAX utility grate, ensure tables, chairs and structures are 2 metres away from these grates. Additional guidance is provided in the 2022 Guidelines for Seasonal Patios located on public property.
- If you are intending to serve alcohol on your outdoor patio, contact the AGLC (Alberta Gaming, Liquor & Cannabis) for information about AGLC permitting requirements. You’ll also need to add the Outdoor Patio licence to your existing business licence. If you do not have a business licence, register your business at apply.calgary.ca. For more information about business licences, visit Restaurants & Breweries.
- If your patio will be on private property, download the complete application requirement list and check each application requirement as you prepare to submit your application. Items listed on the complete application requirement list are the minimum requirements. We may need more information after we review your application.
- Provide all required documents on the requirement list, including drawings and supporting material. If you are not sure if something is required, contact the Planning Services Center.
- Use Sample Drawings to get an idea of what needs to be included on your plans.
- Double check your documents are completed and ensure you have all required items on your plans before submitting your Development Permit application.
- Applications that are missing information will take longer to process.
After you apply:
- The Planning Services Centre may contact you for more information required for your application. Follow-up on requests for more information as quickly as possible.
- Use the Job Access Code (JAC) to check status updates for your application on calgary.ca/vista.
- You’ll get a JAC by e-mail after you’ve submitted your application. If you did not receive a JAC number, contact the Planning Services Center.
- Checking your application’s status using your JAC will provide you with timely updates about the status of your application.
What is a Complete Application?
A complete application means that you have provided all the necessary requirements for our teams to complete their reviews. You should provide everything listed on the Complete Application Requirement List, including plans, supporting documents and payment when required.
For a development permit, if the required information is not supplied within 21 days of the permit application the development permit could be refused.
Where can you apply for your permits?
To apply online, you need a myID account. Create a myID account.
Apply in Person
After you Apply
How to check the status of your permit?
What Inspections do you need?
Development inspection you will need:
After the patio is built, you are required to schedule a development completion permit inspection. Please contact the Planning Services Center to book your inspection.
For an outdoor café, you will be advised at development permit issuance if a building permit is required.
When no building permit is required, after setting up your outdoor café, you must call 311 to request a special event fire inspection.
Please note that the inspection process is dynamic, and an inspection outcome depends on the construction method and site conditions at time of inspection. Please contact the Technical Assistance Centre for more information.
How do you book your building and trade permit inspections?
All contractors can book inspections online through the Inspections Booking System.
Our enhanced Inspections Booking System provides a more streamlined experience for contractors to better manage their inspections. Contractors can book, reschedule or cancel their inspections all through the online tool.
Please note, inspections can be booked up to 10 business days in advance and occur Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. The City continues to do our best to accommodate booking requests, however some dates may be unavailable due to inspection capacity.
Visit Building inspections for information on how to book an inspection, cancel or reschedule, permit expiry and the applicable requirements for each inspection type.
What to do if you want to make changes?
For changes to your Development Permit, contact your File Manager to find out if the changes can be accommodated through a Revised Plan application or if a new Development Permit would be required.