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Places of worship

Places of worship

Before You apply


What is a place of worship?

A place of wors​hip is a space such as a church or mosque where people gather for religious or spiritual purposes. Municipal approvals are required to establish a new location or make changes to an existing place of worship facility. As your first step, we recommend contacting the Planning Services Centre, or booking a pre-application meeting.

Each project is unique and will have different requirements depending on the services offered at the facility, the physical size of the area and the site’s location within the city. Your project might require multiple City approvals including a business licence, planning and/or building approvals.

Places of Worship businesses

Here are some examples:

  • If your place of worship will contain Child Care Services, you will require a business license.
  • If your place of worship will contain a dwelling (residence), it cannot be built in an industrial area. For more information on dwelling units, see the Land Use Bylaw.
  • If the proposed location is within a landfill or wastewater setback area and will contain a kitchen or a dwelling unit, we encourage setting up a pre-application meeting prior to finalizing any decisions.

Do you need a licence?


If your business does not require a licence, you still require a Business ID and land use approval. Visit businesses not requiring a municipal licence​ for more information.

How much will it cost?


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 long will it take?


Timelines indicated are not a guarantee and depend on volumes, application completeness, and the applicant’s timely replies to additional information requests from the City.

Review information on timelines and the approvals process

How to prepare your application

Once you know how and where your business will operate, you’re ready to apply.

For a smooth application, make sure you know the following information:

  • Business Activities
  • Location of Business
  • Fee payment at the time of application*
  • Ownership
  • Name of Business
  • Contact information for the business and owner
  • If you are applying online, a myID account
  • Two pieces of government issued identification

Apply


Tips for a smooth application process

Before you apply

Download the checklist and check each application requirement as you prepare to submit your application. Items listed on the checklist are the minimum requirements. We might need more information after we review your application.

Provide all required documents on the checklist, including drawings, supporting material, and any additional forms. If you are not sure if something is required, contact the Planning Services Centre

Use sample drawings to review what you need to include on your plans

Double check your documents are completed and make sure you have all required items on your plans before you upload them

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 Centre.
  • 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.

An application for a permit may be refused  if, within ninety (90) days from the date of receipt,  if 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.

Apply online

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

Complete the application form.

Once you have gathered all required documents, you can apply for your permit in person by visiting the Planning Services Centre.

After you apply


How to check the status of your licence

After you submit your application online, you will get a confirmation email with a Job Access Code (JAC).

To track your application and check its status, enter your Job Access Code in Vista.

If you need help or have questions, contact our Planning Services Centre

What are the required approvals?


Planning approvals

Whether you are building a new place of worship, converting an existing space, or taking over an existing building already being used as a place of worship, you will need planning approval prior to beginning construction or moving in. Approval depends on:

  • location in the city
  • if the building is new or existing
  • desired changes – or no changes - from the previous use, including changes to the:
    • building exterior
    • parking configuration
    • landscaping
  • whether your desired space was previously used as a place of worship
  • anticipated construction activity – or no construction activity
  • the number of dwelling units, if any at all
  • the assembly area

All applications for places of worship are discretionary, and approval is not guaranteed. In addition to the above examples, some additional criteria that we consider include:

  • existing policy
  • compatibility with the neighbourhood and impact to the area
  • site servicing requirements
  • site access and transportation requirements
  • planning industry best practices

Location

The facility size dictates where it can be located according to Land Use Bylaw​ rules (see part 4, division 2, sections 260 – 262). Based on these rules, there are three uses, which are categorized by the size of the assembly area.

Small assembly area is equal to or less than 300 square metres.
Medium assembly area is greater than 300 square metres and less than 500 square metres
Large assembly area is equal to or greater than 500 square metres

The following chart shows a breakdown of the uses as they relate to facility size. You can determine the land use district for your address by entering it in our property information tool.

Places of worship land use matrix

Please note the I-G and I-E land use districts cannot include dwelling units or be in a building within 250 metres from the property line of any parcel designated as Industrial – Heavy District.

Building approvals

Building approval in the form of a building permit and trade permits may be required prior to any construction or occupancy of a building or tenant space as a place of worship.

A building permit may be required in a variety of situations including:

  • new building construction - designed and built as a place of worship,
  • alteration of an existing building where the place of worship occupies:
    • the entire building, or
    • a new or existing tenant space, and
  • if no construction is planned, to ensure suitability of the building and/or tenant space in an existing or new building.

Contractor trade permits for plumbing, gas, electrical or mechanical (HVAC) work are required for construction or alteration of these systems. A qualified trade contractor must apply for these permits. The trade permits required will depend on the scope of work approved by the building permit.

Technical requirements for design, construction and changes in occupancy are set out in the Alberta Building Code. Additional provisions set out in the Alberta Fire Code may also influence your building, facility, and operations. Early involvement of industry professionals may be required to carry out your project.

Contact the Planning Services Centre for general inquiries about these permits and for technical inquiries about the Alberta Building Code.​​​​​​​​​​​​

​Land use approval​

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.

To view the allowable uses within a land use district, refer to the Land Use Bylaw. To determine the land use district of a property, visit myProperty.

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.​​

Calgary Police Services approval

This licence type requires recommendation by the Calgary Police Service through the Police Information Checks unit. Approval is completed by the Calgary Police Service and is initiated on your behalf through your business licence application.  Please note that previous police checks cannot be used as a substitute for this approval process.

You are required to provide two pieces of valid, government issued identification, one of which must contain photo identification (ID).

You can show your ID:

  • In person at the Planning Services Centre:
    3rd floor
    800 Macleod Trail S.E.
    Calgary, AB
  • By fax: 403-537-3034

Please reference your Business ID (BID) in the email or fax.

Please note: for licenses requiring a statutory declaration or a City-issued ID card, proof of identification must be shown in person.

This approval generally takes about two weeks.

Acceptable forms of government issued photo identification include:

  • driver’s license
  • passport
  • Alberta photo identification card (issued through registry offices)
  • firearms license
  • Nexus card
  • permanent resident card
  • Secure Certificate of Indian Status card (federally issued)
  • aviation document booklet
  • certified refugee protection claimant document

(For youth between the ages of 12 to 15 years old who cannot provide any of the listed photo identification options, a student photo ID will be considered).

Acceptable forms of government issued identification include:

  • provincial health care card
  • birth certificate
  • marriage certificate
  • immigration documentation (includes valid document issued by Immigration and citizenship Canada)
  • citizenship card
  • citizenship certificate
​​​

Fire Prevention Bureau approval

Most businesses that operate from commercial premises require an inspection from the Fire Prevention Bureau before the licence can be issued. 

If a business licence is for a low fire-risk licence type, it can be issued if only the Fire approval is outstanding. Low fire-risk businesses need to have 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)
Business Licence Approval Type Timeline
Fire inspection 5 business days

To book your inspection contact 311 with your Business Identification (BID) number to request a Fire Inspection for Business Licence (call 403-268-2489 outside of Calgary) .

It can take up to 5 business days for an inspector to visit the space.

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.​​​​​

Provincial licensing approval

Certain business activities require provincial licensing in addition to your municipal business license. These activities have been identified as licence types on the chart above (see required approvals chart).

Contact Service Alberta at 1-780-427-4088 (or toll free in Alberta only at 1-877-427-4088) and provide details of the licence types you are currently applying for with The City of Calgary. Service Alberta will direct you to the appropriate provincial contact  which will provide further direction in regard to fulfilling the provincial licensing requirements necessary for obtaining  your municipal business licence.

Provincial licenses must be submitted to The City’s licence division to obtain the municipal license.

You can present your provincial licence:

  • In person at the Planning Services Centre:
    3rd floor
    800 Macleod Trail S.E.
    Calgary, AB
  • By fax: 403-537-3034

Alberta Motor Vehicle Industry Council (AMVIC)

​​

The Alberta government requires a license for certain motor vehicle business activities.  You must contact the Alberta Motor Vehicle Industry Council (AMVIC) at 1-877-979-8100 for details about obtaining a provincial licence.

AMVIC requires confirmation of City planning approvals before they will issue a provincial AMVIC licence. Once AMVIC issues your provincial licence, you must provide it to The City of Calgary, which will then release your municipal business licence.

Applicants can present the AMVIC license:

  • In person at the Planning Services Centre:
    3rd floor
    800 Macleod Trail S.E.
    Calgary, AB

Planning Services Centre

Hours:
Monday - Friday
8 a.m. - 4:15 p.m. (MT)

Live chat:
calgary.ca/livechat

Call:
403-268-5311

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

Book an eAppointment for in person services at appointment.calgary.ca

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