Town of Canmore

Planning & Development FAQ

Building and Construction

When do I need a building permit?
A Building Permit is needed for the construction of a building, the renovation or addition to a building, and for any change in the type of occupancy of the building.

A Permit is not required for:

  • Painting, decorating, re-roofing or re-siding IF matters affecting health and safety are not at risk AND there is no structural change to the building
  • Construction that does not exceed five thousand dollars ($5000) in total prevailing market value IF matters of health and safety are not at risk AND it is not of a structural nature in the opinion of the Safety Codes Officer
  • Construction of an accessory building or structure less than 10m2 (~107 ft2) in area AND located on a temporary foundation AND less than five thousand dollars ($5,000) in total prevailing market value
  • The replacement or alteration of ducting serving a space heating appliance IF it is located in a single family residential dwelling AND there is no design change required to the heating and ventilation system.
How much does a building permit cost?
Please see the fee schedule for costs.
What permits will I need to build a house?
You will need a Building Permit, and possibly a Development Permit. Road use permits and excavation permits may also be needed from the Engineering Department.  It is likely that you will need electrical, plumbing and gas permits from a certified body.
Do I need a permit for HVAC (Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning) work?
The Town of Canmore doesn't issue HVAC or Mechanical permits, but any Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning work will require the appropriate permits where that work is covered by the Alberta Building Code, Canadian Electrical Code, Alberta Gas Code, or Alberta Plumbing Code. For example, furnace and heating appliance installation, and all wood burning fireplaces and stoves are regulated by the Alberta Building Code, and do require a building permit.
What other permits might I need?
If the project you are proposing to undertake involves electrical, gas or plumbing work, you will need to obtain the relevant permits from an accredited agency. Below is a list of agencies that are accredited to issue electrical, gas and plumbing permits and to monitor compliance in Canmore.
Agency Name Phone Fax
Davis Inspection Services Ltd. (403) 275-3338 1-800-639-0912 (403) 275-9790
IJD Inspections Ltd. (403) 346-6533 1-877-617-8776 (403) 347-2533
Park Enterprises (403) 329-3747 1-800-621-5440 (403) 329-8514 1-866-406-8484
Superior Safety Codes Inc. 1-888-717-2344 1-888-717-2340
The Inspections Group (780) 454-5048 1-866-554-5048 (780) 454-5222 1-866-454-5222

For additional information on electrical, gas and plumbing permits please visit the Alberta Affairs website.

What is the building application timeline?
The building permit application takes time and should be factored into your planned schedule for construction. In general, minor building permit applications take between 15 and 20 working days to process. Larger or more complex permit applications are dealt with on a case by case basis. It is very important to note that the above schedules apply only to complete permit applications where no development permit is required.
  • If a permit application is incomplete, the applicant will be contacted by the Town and informed of the deficiencies. The application cannot be processed until all required information is submitted. It is better to wait until you have assembled all of the required information prior to submitting your application to the Town.
  • If a permit application is not consistent with the regulations of the Land Use Bylaw, the applicant will be contacted by the Town and informed that either a development permit is required or that no building permit may be granted. It is important to note that there is no guarantee that a development permit will be granted for a proposal that varies from the Land Use Bylaw. For more information on development permits please contact Planning and Development at (403)678-1543.
Upon the applicant satisfying the Town that all engineering and other requirements specified under the Land Use Bylaw have been complied with, the Town will release the permit to the applicant. Permits that are not claimed within 30 days of the approval date will be cancelled. Plans will be returned by mail and 25% of the fee will be retained.
Does the Town regulate the colour of the house, type of roofing or any other architectural controls? 
There are no colour or architectural controls for single family and duplexes, but there are for larger developments. Height, location, setbacks and roof pitch of a house are regulated. For roofing, we do not generally prohibit materials, although cedar shakes are not recommended.
How close to the property line can we build?
This depends on your land use district, and on any other setbacks which need to be taken into account for your property.  You can see the pdf Land Use District map (1.60 MB) , and get a copy of the Land Use Bylaw 22-2010 as it pertains to your land use zoning.
What are the Town’s green building requirements?
Building and Development permits for new construction are required to meet the Green Building regulations (not renovations, additions, or reconstruction).  You can see the target your project is required to meet in pdf Section 7 (236 KB) of the Land Use Bylaw.
What are the responsibilities of the permit holder?
Once the review of an application is approved the following responsibilities apply. These are excepted from the Town of Canmore's Building Permit Bylaw.

SECTION 11 RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE PERMIT HOLDER
On the issuance of a Permit, the permit holder must:
(a) comply with the terms and conditions of the Permit; and
(b) undertake the construction, process or activity in accordance with the Act and
applicable codes and standards; and (c) notify the Town:
(i) if the permit holder does not intend to complete the undertaking, or
(ii) if there is a change in ownership from the owner as stated on the Permit
application, (d) ensure that all plans and specifications required to apply for the Permit are available at the construction site at all reasonable times for inspection by a Safety Codes Officer, and
(e) ensure that the Permit is posted, or otherwise identified, at the construction site.

SECTION 12 TERM OF A PERMIT
In the absence of a different term set under Section 10, a permit expires if the undertaking to which it applies
(a) is not commenced within 90 days from the date of issue of the permit, or
(b) is suspended or abandoned for a period of 120 days, or
(c) is in respect of a seasonal use residence and the undertaking is suspended or abandoned for a period of 240 days after the undertaking is started. Despite subsection (1), when the term of a Permit has not expired, the Town may, in writing, and on the request of the Permit holder, extend the permit for an additional fixed period of time that the Town considers appropriate.

SECTION 14. DEVIATION FROM PERMIT CONDITIONS
No person shall deviate or authorize a deviation from a Permit or terms or conditions of a Permit without first obtaining the written permission of the Town. SECTION 15 PERMIT TRANSFER, TERMINATION

If a holder of a Permit relinquishes the holder’s interest or participation in the undertaking governed by the Permit before the undertaking is completed, the Permit or any label or identification number issued as part of a Permit:
(a) is terminated, and
(b) applies only to the part of the undertaking completed before the termination unless the Town authorizes the Permit or label or identification number to be transferred. A Permit is not transferable to any other person unless the transfer is authorized in writing by the Town.
What's a setback?
The distance which a building or structure is set back from a street or road, river or stream, railway line, utility right-of-way, or any other place which needs protection. 
Do I need a permit to build a fence?
No permits are required for fences, but they must meet certain height regulations. In both residential and commercial districts, the maximum height of a fence is 1.2m (4') in the front yard, 1.8m (6') in the side and rear yards, and 2.5m (8'2") at the highest point of a gateway. On corner lots, where the height of a fence may affect visibility, the maximum height allowed is 1m (40") within the corner visibility triangle. There is a  pdf full public guide on fences (274 KB)  available.
Do I need a permit to build a deck?
A Building Permit is required for decks more than 0.6m (2') above the existing grade. A pdf full public guide on decks (252 KB) is available. 
Do I need a permit to build an accessory building?
 
A Building Permit is required for a garage or shed that is more than 10m2 (~107 ft2) in area, or is worth more than $5,000 in cost of work. A Building Permit may also be required if, in the opinion of the Safety Codes Officer, matters of health and safety are involved. A full public guide on accessory buildings is available pdf here (240 KB)
If I don’t need a permit for my shed, can I build it wherever I want?
No. An accessory building can be built in any yard except the front yard of a residential property and must maintain the required setbacks.  If an accessory building is attached to the house it is subject to the same setback regulations as the principal building.
What is a development permit and when would I need one?
You will need a development permit when: building anything residential bigger than a duplex; any commercial exterior renovation or new building; for duplexes where there is no development grading plan, or where there is an off-site levy fee owing, where the gross floor area is more than 500m², or within R1 areas where the residential building exceeds the greater of both the gross floor area (GFA) of 325m² or an floor area ratio (FAR) of 0.35. Development permits are also needed: for secondary suites; for any discretionary uses; for any variances; when changing use; for Home Occupations and Bed & Breakfasts.
Do I need a permit for a fire pit?  
Firepits don’t require a permit, but are controlled by the Town of Canmore Fire Bylaw. See a copy pdf here (689 KB) , or for more information contact Canmore Fire-EMS
Do I need a permit for a hot tub?
This will depend on where the hot tub will be located.  A deck would need to be engineered to hold the weight, and so would need a permit.
Do I need a permit to finish my basement?
Do I need a permit for installing a wood stove or fireplace?
Do I need a permit if I'm putting up a large tent for an event?
Possibly. Check out our Tents & Temporary Structure Permits for Events pdf handout (176 KB)  for more information.
I have my permit - now what?
Now that you have your Building Permit, all you need to do before starting construction is:
  • Post the blue building permit card conspicuously on the site.
  • The signed and stamped drawings that were returned to you with the building permit card are the drawings that should be used for construction.
  • Only the work identified on those drawings is covered under the building permit.
  • Keep track of the inspections required as part of your building permit and to abide by the conditions of your permit.
  • Please ensure that you and your contractors maintain a safe and tidy construction site. Sample Building Permit
Moving Forward
  • If you do require access to a portion of the road right of way you must first obtain a road right of way usage permit from the Town of Canmore.
  • If you require access over a park or municipal reserve parcel as part of construction you must first obtain permission to cross a public reserve.
  • If you need to work on a Sunday or a statutory holiday, you must first obtain permission to work from the Town of Canmore.
  • If you wish to make an amendment to your building permit, please submit the proposed revisions and supporting information to Planning and Development at the Civic Centre. Please note that additional fees are due if the amendment is submitted after the building permit has been granted. Until such time as the amendment is approved, no work other than that detailed in your existing permit and drawings is permitted.
What inspections are needed?
Safety Codes Inspections - At stages during construction, the Town of Canmore's Safety Codes Officer (Building Inspector) will need to carry out inspections of the work. Depending on the scope of work the number of inspections may vary. For example, the construction of a new home requires a minimum of 4 inspections at the following stages:
  • Foundation Inspection - Occurs before the foundation is back filled
  • Framing Inspection - Occurs after electrical and mechanical is installed but before insulation is installed
  • Vapour Barrier & Insulation Inspection - Occurs after the insulation and vapour barrier is installed but before drywall is installed
  • Final Inspection - Occurs prior to occupying the building.

Inspections - Other projects, such as the construction of a deck may require fewer inspections. In the case of a deck renovation it is likely that only a final inspection would be carried out.

To book an inspection please call the Town of Canmore's Permit Clerk at (403) 678-1543. Please note that inspections require a minimum of 48 hours advanced booking and are scheduled according to availability of the Safety Codes Officer.

Municipal Services Inspections - When the scope of a building permit includes tying in to municipal services (sewer and water), an inspection of these tie ins is required. This inspection must take place before the services are buried. For projects of 3 dwelling units or less, the Town of Canmore conducts these inspections. For commercial projects or those including more than 3 dwelling units, a consulting engineer must be engaged to carry out the inspections and issue a certificate of compliance. To book an inspection for projects of less than 3 dwelling units, please contact the Engineering Technician at (403) 678-1528. Engineering inspections must be booked a minimum of 24 hours in advance.

Consulting Engineer and Consultant Inspections - Where a building permit application contains letter(s) of engagement from consulting engineer(s) or a consultant, the consulting engineer(s) or consultant must carry out their inspections and copies of the reports must be submitted to the Town of Canmore. Please ensure that you book your inspections in a timely manner as in many cases work cannot proceed until after the inspection is carried out. Please contact your consulting engineer(s) and consultant(s) to determine when their inspections should take place. Some examples of inspections that are commonly carried out by consulting engineers as part of issuing a report include structural roof inspections and retaining wall/slope stability inspections. An example of an inspection commonly carried out by a consultant would be a blower door test as part of the federal EnerGuide Program. It is important to note that the Town of Canmore will not close the Building Permit or issue occupancy until all of the consultant reports have been submitted.

How can I get occupancy?
Once a building or unit has passed the final inspection by the Safety Codes Officer the occupancy procedure can be initiated. The Town of Canmore occupancy procedure is a 4 stage process that generally occurs within one business day of passing the final inspection.
  • Safety Codes Officer provides a final inspection report indicating that construction meets the Alberta Building Code.
  • Planning and Development Services inspects the property to ensure all outstanding conditions of the building permit are complete.
  • Engineering Services ensures that the construction completion certificates for the site infrastructure and drainage are in place where applicable.
  • The Town will issue an occupancy certificate and contact EPCOR to have the water turned on and meter installed, should all of these requirements be complete.

  pdf Sample Occupancy Certificate (48 KB)

It is very important to note that passing the final inspection does not mean that it is okay to occupy a building. Occupying a building without a valid occupancy permit or removing a water spacer is unlawful and subject to fines.

Under some circumstances the Town may grant conditional occupancy for a building or unit. In these cases, the occupancy permit will be granted with conditions attached with dates by which the conditions must be addressed. Please read your occupancy certificate and ensure that any conditions that are listed on it are met by the prescribed date. Should the conditions of occupancy not be met by the outlined dates, the occupancy for the building may be revoked and the water turned off. A building permit is still open until all conditions of occupancy are completed. If no conditions are listed on your occupancy certificate then the building permit will be closed.

When is a building permit closed?

Once the final inspection has been passed and unconditional occupancy granted, the building permit file will be closed by the Town. As part of closing the file, a Permit Services Report (PSR) will be issued to the building permit holder.

  pdf Sample Permit Services Report (12 KB) PSRs are issued for all files that are closed. Please note that in some cases a PSR will be issued where conditions of a building permit are not complete or the work does not comply. This is done when a building permit expires and there has been no renewal applied for by the applicant. 
What is a Sustainability Screening Report?
An evaluation of the net impact/benefit your project will have on the community. It is made up of a narrative explaining the project and a matrix that calculates the impact/offset of the development. It is required for projects over 500m2 or an application for an amendment to a statutory plan.

 

Business and Signage

 

I want to start a home-business, what permits do I need?
From the Town you will need a Home Occupation Permit (or Bed & Breakfast Permit), and a Business Licence.  There may be other requirements from other bodies.
What do I need to start a B&B?
What is a home occupation?
Home occupations are small-scale businesses that operate out of a home in a residential neighbourhood. If you operate a business from home, you may require a Home Occupation Development Permit. Two types of home occupations are allowed in Canmore.
A Class 1 Home Occupation (also known as Desk & Telephone) has no impact on the surrounding neighbourhood. 
A Class 2 Home Occupation has minimal impact on the surrounding neighbours. This type is allowed only if no adverse impact on the neighbours can be guaranteed.
What permits might I need for a commercial business?
From the Planning and Development department you may need a Signage Permit, a Change of Use, and a Confirmation of Zoning.
I want to put up a new sign, what permits do I need?
You need approval from the Planning and Development department for any signs.  In most cases you will need to fill out a pdf Signage Permit application (357 KB) .
I would like to advertise my business with a flashing open sign, four backlit hanging signs, six permanent banners, three A-boards, a moving lights display and one of those waving inflatable air men. What permits would I need for this?
These sign types are not permitted in Canmore. Visit Signage Standards and Regulations for more information.

 

Miscellaneous 

My property is for sale and I need a Letter/Stamp of Compliance. What is a Stamp of Compliance and how do I obtain one?  What happens if the development is not in compliance?
A Stamp of Compliance is confirmation that the Real Property Report you submit is compliant with the land use regulations of your district. If you are not compliant, we will not issue the stamp and we can require you to make your property compliant - either through application for the appropriate Development/Building Permits, or demolition of non-compliant parts.  The application form is available pdf here (21 KB) .  Note that the Real Property Report must be no more than 2 years old, or can be 2-5 years old if accompanied by a statutory declaration affirming that nothing has changed.
What is a Real Property Report?
A representation of your lot with all development. You can contact a surveyor to obtain one.
Can I get a copy of the plans for my house?
We may have the building plans for your house on file.  You can fill out a pdf Building Plans Viewing Request form (478 KB)  and pay the appropriate fees to view the plans.  If you want copies of the plans, we can have copies made through another company (either paper copies or scans to pdf), and will then charge you the cost of copying.
How do I know what land use zone my property is in?
You can see the pdf Land Use District map (1.60 MB) , and get a copy of the Land Use Bylaw as it pertains to your land use zoning here.
Where can I find a copy of the Land Use Bylaw?
Visit the Land Use Bylaw 22-2010 page with links to pdf downloads of each section of the Land Use Bylaw.
Where can I find a copy of the Municipal Development Plan?
Visit our guiding documents Guiding Documents page.
Where do I apply for a permit or submit an application?
In person/by mail:
Planning & Development
Town of Canmore
902 7th Avenue
Canmore, AB T1W 3K1 

By email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

Secondary Suite Information

What Land Use Districts allow for suites in Canmore?
Not every district allows for the same types of suites, and in some cases suites are a discretionary versus a permitted use. There are also some district specific regulations governing suites, a complete list and description of Land Use Districts can be found in Section 2 of the Land Use Bylaw here. A downloadable Land Use District Map can be found  pdf here (1.60 MB) .

R1 Residential Single-Family Detached Districts (on lots with access from both a street and a lane)
R1B Residential Single-Family Detached Plus District
R1B-E Residential Single-Family Detached Plus Entry-level District
R1B-W Residential Single-Family Detached Plus Wide Lot District
R1S Residential Single-Family Detached with Suites District
R2 Residential Family Two-unit District (associated with an existing single-family detached dwelling)
R2A Residential Family Low Density District (associated with an existing single-family detached dwelling)
R4 Residential Medium Density District (associated with an existing single-family detached dwelling)
STR-1 Silvertip Residential Single-Family and Two Unit District
STR-2 Silvertip Comprehensive Residential District
TPT-CR Teepee Town Comprehensive Redevelopment District
Three Sisters Resorts DC District (Site 1A and Site 2A)
Woodside Lane Residential Single Family Detached Plus DC District
What types of secondary suites are allowed in Canmore?
Secondary Suite: means development consisting of an ancillary, self-contained dwelling unit located in a structure in which the primary use is a single family dwelling unit. A secondary suite has an entrance separate from the entrance to the primary dwelling unit, either from a common indoor landing or directly from the exterior of the structure, and may be connected by an interior door directly connecting the primary dwelling unit to the secondary suite. Exterior access to the secondary suite is subordinate in both size and appearance to the access of the primary dwelling unit.

Garden Suite: means a secondary dwelling unit detached from and located on the same site and serviced by the same utilities as a single-family detached principle dwelling unit. A Garden Suite may be attached to or be developed above a detached garage.

Single-Family Detached Plus Dwelling: means a single detached building designed to contain one primary dwelling unit and one secondary suite, under one title, used exclusively for the residence of not more than one family per dwelling unit and where the primary dwelling unit and secondary suite may be connected by an interior door directly connecting the primary dwelling unit to the secondary suite. Exterior access to the secondary suite is subordinate in both size and appearance to the access of the primary dwelling unit.
What is the process for building a suite?
If secondary or garden suites or single family-detached plus dwellings are allowed in your Land Use District you are invited to submit an application. In some cases suites are a discretionary versus a permitted use. In these cases you will need to apply for a Development Permit and a Building Permit if constructing a new suite or legalizing an existing suite. Be sure to determine which district your lot is located in and review the associated regulations prior to submitting your application.

 

Tourist Home Information for Property Owners

What is a tourist home?
More information on tourist homes can be found here.

If you have any questions, the Planning and Development department staff are happy to meet with you and discussion your application. Come down to the Civic Centre Monday - Friday, 8.30am - 4.30pm, or phone (403) 678-1543.