Fences & retaining walls

Step 1: Review


Do I need a permit?

Typically a permit is required if any of these conditions apply:

Fence:

  • 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).

Fees

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:

Permit Timeline

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.

Design

Measuring the height of fences, retaining walls and garden boxes

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.

Drawing of garden box measured at grade 
drawing of garden box 

​​

Retaining walls and fence heights are measured from grade to the top of the fence:

 

Construction (Building Code information)

Derelict of run down fences

Fences on private property that are in poor condition are handled by the Community Standards Bylaw. Contact 311 for more information.

Developer fences

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.

Rules and Guidelines for Skateboards and Sport Ramps

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.

Encroachment guidelines

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

Drop off your application at
3rd floor, Municipal building
800 Macleod Trail SE

We are currently not accepting appointments.

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 4: Track


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

Step 5: Changes


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

Retaining walls

Framing (rough-in) inspection requirements:

  • Complete the retaining wall.
  • Install guards.

Book an inspection

Inspections 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. Inspections can continue to be booked up to 10 business days in advance.

You will receive a confirmation e-mail on the morning of your inspection that states your inspection window (8 a.m. to noon or noon to 4 p.m.). If you have not received an email by 8:30 a.m. on inspection day, please call 311.

Homeowners

Call 311 to book an inspection over the phone.

Contractors

If you have a Vista account:

If you do not have a Vista account:

Planning Services Centre

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

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

Live chat:
calgary.ca/livechat

Call:
403-268-5311

Drop-off:
3rd floor, Municipal building
800 Macleod Trail SE

Click before you dig

Always contact Utility Safety Partners before you dig. Submit a locate request online or call 1-800-242-3447 for more information.


This information has no legal status and cannot be used as an official interpretation of the various bylaws, codes and regulations currently in effect. The City of Calgary accepts no responsibility to persons relying solely on this information. Web pages are updated periodically. ​

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