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.
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 green target your project is required to meet in the pdf Public Guide for Green Building (Commercial) (312 KB) or the pdf Public Guide for Green Building (Residential) (383 KB) .
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 $5000 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?
Yes, a building permit.
Do I need a permit for installing a wood stove or fireplace?
Yes, a building permit.
Do I need a permit if I'm putting up a large tent for an event?
You may, check out our Tents & Temporary Structure Permits for Events pdf handout (176 KB) for more information.
What other permits may 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.
|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 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?
You will need a Bed and Breakfast Development Permit.
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.
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 (126 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.
Where can I find a copy of the Land Use Bylaw?
Click here to see a 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?
Click pdf here (4.26 MB) to download the Municipal Development Plan.
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
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 permitted 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.
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.
Tourist Home Information for Property Owners
What is a tourist home?
The formal definition of a Tourist Home is a dwelling unit operated as a temporary place to stay, with or without compensation, and includes all vacation rentals of a dwelling unit. The characteristics that distinguish a tourist home from a dwelling unit used as a residence may include any of the following:
- the intent of the occupant to stay for short term vacation purposes rather than use the property as a residence; and/or
- the commercial nature of a tourist home; and/or
- the management or advertising of the dwelling unit as a tourist home or “ vacation property”; and/or
- the use of a system of reservations, deposits, confirmations, credit cards or other forms of electronic payment.
These examples do not represent an exhaustive list of operating practices that may constitute a tourist home.
A Tourist Home may be used either for short term stays or as a permanent residence.
What do I need to do if I want to use my Canmore property as a Tourist Home?
- If the zoning for your property allows for Tourist Homes, you will need to apply for a Development Permit to change the use allowed on your property from residential to Tourist Home.
- Complete and submit a Development Permit Application and necessary fee.
- Post the Development Permit Notice of Decision (if approved) on the property, following the guidelines for placement of the notice.
- If there were any objections to the Development Permit Notice, you may need to attend a Sub Development Appeal Board hearing so that the concerns can be addressed.
- Apply for a Business License.
- Once the Development Permit and Business License have been granted, you are ready to operate your property as a Tourist Home. There may be other requirements, depending on your specific property. These other requirements are outside of the jurisdiction of the Town of Canmore, but are something you should take into consideration:
- Collecting and remitting the Alberta Hotel Tax.
- Collecting and remitting GST.
- Inspection and cleaning of hot tubs (where applicable) – contact the Calgary Health Region – Public Health Inspector at 403 678 5656.
What could happen if I operate a Tourist Home without a permit?
The Town of Canmore investigates complaints of illegal Tourist Homes on a regular basis. If a property is found to be operating as a Tourist Home, a Cease Use Order may be issued, which can be appealed to the Subdivision and Development Appeal Board. The Town can also issue fines of $2,500 for the first offence and $5,000 for subsequent offences. The act of advertising the property as available for tourist use can result in enforcement action by the Town.
Why are my taxes higher?
A tourist home is a very flexible type of use where the property can be rented out short term as a quasi-commercial use or lived in permanently as a residence. The lower residential tax rate is reserved for properties which are owner-occupied where the owners have declared the property as their primary residence and and that it will not be rented.
What if I live in my property for part of the year, and rent it out when I’m not using it?
You will still require a Tourist Home Permit. There are no restrictions on personal use once a Tourist Home Permit is in place.
Why do I need a permit if my neighbours don’t mind?
While your neighbours may not mind the occasional guest, there are other people to consider:
- Owners of legally operated Tourist Homes, Hotels, Bed & Breakfast and Inn operations. An illegal Tourist Home has lower taxes and expenses, which creates an unfair advantage to other business owners in our community.
- Canmore Taxpayers. Tourist Homes that do not pay their share of the property taxes leave it to residential owners to make up the difference.
- Your guests, and our visitors. Visitors to Canmore will not be aware of the laws in our area. When they pay for their vacation, they are expecting that the operator is acting in their best interest. If you accept a future reservation, and are then issued a Cease Use Order, you leave the guest without a place to stay.
- Permitted Tourist Homes
Where are the permitted tourist homes in town?
The following list is provided for reference only, and lists all those properties in the town that have a valid development permit to operate a Tourist Home. The Town of Canmore makes no warranties or representations as to the condition of the property, or the service levels provided by the owners. pdf Permitted Tourist Homes (18 KB)
How can I find out if a home is illegally operating as a tourist home?