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Real Estate & Development Services

Approval process for Calgary region industrial land development explained

Acquire. Secure. Implement.

That's the industrial real estate site selection process in a nutshell. Looks simple, doesn't it? Seasoned practitioners know otherwise. That's because securing municipal land approvals - a step which falls between "Acquire" and "Implement" - can be a complex undertaking, depending on the deal.

This article aims to shed some light on the municipal approvals required before newly-acquired industrial land in the Calgary region can be developed.

Approvals stem from our municipalities’ planning mandate to guide orderly development for the benefit of all citizens. While details vary from municipality to municipality, planning approvals generally involve these 3 things:

  • Subdivision
  • Rezoning
  • Development and building permits  

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This is when a land purchaser seeks municipal approval to divide an acquired land parcel into more suitable sized lots for development purposes. For example, if a land parcel exceeds business requirements, subdivision enables the purchaser to capture value from any unused land by selling it.

Find out the full details about The City of Calgary's subdivision application requirements. When it comes to land in The City's business and industrial parks, subdivision is typically unnecessary as lots are sized to meet market requirements.


Municipalities use zoning (or land use designation) to control how land is developed. All land within the municipality is given land use designation. This enables a municipality to plan what uses are appropriate by land type and location. Land use and district is how a municipality plans what uses are appropriate by land type and location. This ensures, for example, that ensures an auto wrecking operation doesn’t set up in the heart of a suburban neighbourhood.

Newly-acquired land may or may not be designated for business use, depending on its location, history, adjacent properties and other factors. Land owners can seek to use land in different ways than its original use by putting forth a redesignation application to the municipality.

Read about The City of Calgary's process for re-designating land use.

Development and building permits

Municipalities require land purchasers to get development permits for most proposed land improvements, such as new buildings, signage, and landscaping. In Calgary, for example, The City's Planning & Development department reviews and approves development applications.

The City also requires land purchasers to get building permits for newly-constructed buildings. This ensures new buildings comply with building codes on matters such as safety and energy efficiency, for example. Municipalities use development permits to help plan and implement growth. Permits ensure proposed structures align with land use bylaws and other applicable policies and are compatible with surrounding developments.

Planning municipal-land approvals can be a complex process and it is vital to understand its various requirements. The City aims to foster responsible growth to undertake the development of industrial land.

Interested in learning more or have questions?