Development and Permitting FAQs

What is a development?

The Municipal Government Act defines “development” as an excavation or stockpile, construction, renovation, or repairs to a building, a change in the use of land or intensity in the use of land. The Development Officer reviews a development application for compliance with the Land Use Bylaw which sets out land use districts and the one or more permitted and discretionary uses within each district.

Do I need a development permit?

A development permit is required for most developments in the Municipality of Crowsnest Pass to ensure neighbourhood compatibility, aesthetics, appropriate use of space, and minimum requirements are met. A development permit gives a person permission to undertake the proposed development. Not all developments require a development permit, although other permits under the Alberta Safety Codes Act or other legislation may be required. For a list of exemptions, refer to Schedule 3 of the Municipality of Crowsnest Pass Land Use Bylaw.

The following brochures have additional information for specific developments:

How much does a development permit cost?

The cost of a development permit depends on the type and scale of development. Please see the Planning & Development Fees schedule.

How long does the development permit process take?

The length of time depends on the scale of development. According to the Municipal Government Act a development permit needs to be issued within 40 days of receipt of a completed application unless the applicant enters into an agreement of extension.

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 building permit is required (including but not limited) to:

  • Construct a foundation to support a building or structure
  • Erect a new building or structure, including retaining walls over 0.9m (3 ft.) in height and swimming pools/hot tubs
  • Demolish, relocate, alter or make additions to an existing building or structure
  • Install or modify heating ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC)
  • Installations for all commercial, industrial, institutional and new dwelling installations
  • Construct an uncovered deck more than 0.6m (2 ft.) above grade

A building permit is not required for:

  • General maintenance, repairs or upgrades, at the discretion of a Building Safety Codes Officer, that do not create a hazard
  • Painting, decorating, non-structural renovations
  • Parking pads not supporting a garage or carport
  • Retaining walls less than 0.9m (3 ft.) in height
  • Accessory buildings not greater than 10 m² (107.5 sq. ft.)
  • Uncovered decks or patios not exceeding 0.6m (2 ft.) from ground level

How much does a building permit cost?

The cost of a building permit depends on the type and scale of development. Please see the Safety Codes Permit Fees schedule.

What permits do I need to build a house?

You will need a development permit and a building permit. You may also require a plumbing permit, gas permit, electrical permit and septic permit. A variety of provincial codes and regulations govern when you need additional permits. This may also vary with the specific circumstances surrounding your project. It is always best to check with the Municipality before starting any new work. For more information, download our Building a House? brochure.

What is the difference between a development permit and a building permit?

A development permit is not the same as a building permit. A development permit allows a specific type of development on a specific parcel of land to proceed. Development permits address issues of community planning, bylaws, land use, image, and compatibility.  It is required to ensure compliance with the Land Use Bylaw and that development does not infringe on the rights of adjacent landowners and other interested parties. A development permit may stipulate some of the following conditions: the use of the property, intensity of that use, building height, building site coverage, setbacks from property lines, development standards, parking requirements etc.

The building permit process is based on the Safety Codes Act and the Alberta Building Code, Plumbing Code, Electrical Code, and Fire Code. Application reviews, approvals, and site inspections, are provided in accordance with the relevant codes to ensure safety for all the citizens of the Municipality of Crowsnest Pass.

In most cases, both development and building permits are required. When undertaking a new project, it is always best to consult with the Development Office to find out what kinds of permits you will need.

How close to the property line can we build?

Knowing how close you can build to the property line depends on your land use district, and on any other setbacks which need to be taken into account for your property. Most residential properties within the Municipality of Crowsnest Pass are zoned R-1 (Residential) or GCR-1 (Grouped Country Residential). In R-1 districts dwellings must be set back at least 6.1m (20 ft.) from the front property line, 1.5m (5 ft.) from the side property lines, and 7.6m (25 ft.) from the rear property line.

You can download the Land Use Bylaw and Land Use District Maps  to locate your property and determine the land use district.

What is a setback?

This is 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.

How do I know what land use zone my property is in and what can be built there?

You can locate any property in the Land Use District Maps and identify the district. Each district has a section in the Land Use Bylaw which specifies what types of buildings and uses can go there, setbacks, site coverage, maximum building height and any other regulation.

Do I need a permit to build a fence?

The construction or maintenance of gates, fences, walls, or other means of enclosure do not require a Development Permit providing the property is not within or adjacent to the Wildland Urban Interface (see Land Use District Maps), and the structure is within the following height limitations:

  • Front Yard: Maximum 1.0m (3.3 ft.)
  • Side and Rear Yards: Maximum 1.8m (6 ft.)

Fences proposed outside of these limits will require a Development Permit application.

On a corner lot, a fence or hedge must not obstruct vision between a height of 0.9m (3 ft.) and 3.0m (10 ft.), within the sight triangle (refer to Schedule 4. Section 10. of the Land Use Bylaw for diagrams).

For more information, download our Building a Deck or Fence? brochure.

Do I need a permit to build a deck?

An uncovered deck does not require a Development Permit, providing the improvements do not alter lot drainage and the property is not within the Wildland Urban Interface or the Historic Commercial Overlay District, and all other provisions of the Land Use Bylaw (e.g. setbacks) are complied with. In order to be exempt from the requirement to obtain a development permit the applicant shall submit a site plan detailing the location, dimensions and setbacks of the proposed structure. The Development Officer may then stamp the Site Plan as approved if all standards comply.

Proposed decks that do not meet the requirements of the Land Use Bylaw will require a Development Permit to request a waiver.

If you are proposing a roof on your deck, this will be considered a residential addition and shall require a development permit. Please refer to information leaflet for Residential Additions and Renovations.

For more information, download our Building a Deck or Fence? brochure.

Do I need a permit to build a garage or shed?

Building permits are required for any accessory building over 10 m² (107.5 ft²), however development permits are only required for those over 13.93m² (150 ft².) The development permit will determine whether your proposed development meets the requirements of the Municipality of Crowsnest Pass Land Use Bylaw in terms of use, setbacks, height, parking etc.

For more information, download our Building a Garage? brochure

If I don’t need a permit, can I build wherever I want?

No. Fences, decks & small sheds are only exempt from requiring a development permit, provided all standards of development and other applicable provisions of the Land Use Bylaw are complied with. This means they must still meet regulations such as setback distance, site coverage and maximum height. 

Do I need a permit for installing a wood stove or fireplace?

Yes, you will be required to apply for a building permit.

What is the Wildland Urban Interface?

The Wildland Urban Interface Zone is that area of Alberta that is neither completely built up, nor completely undisturbed. As such, it is an area that if not properly protected can act as the means of transmission of wildfires from pristine rural areas into populated urban zones, or vice versa.

To combat the threat from wildfires in the Wildland Urban Interface Zone, the Government of Alberta has adopted the FireSmart Program under the championship of the Ministry of Environment and Parks. They, along with the Office of the Fire Commissioner and the Alberta Emergency Management Agency, bear the primary responsibility for preventing fires from becoming uncontrollable with consequent destructive impacts.

All subdivisions and developments located within or adjacent to the Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) shall be subject to the requirements outlined in Schedule 14 of the Land Use Bylaw as well as those established in the “FireSmart” manuals prepared by Partners in Protection.

A Wildland Urban Interface map has been prepared and adopted as part of the Land Use Bylaw to identify critical development areas within the Municipality (see Land Use District Maps).

My property falls within the Historic Commercial Area Overlay District, what does this mean if I want to carry out work on the building?

Overlays have been prepared for Bellevue, Blairmore and Coleman which identify historic commercial areas to promote and protect their significant historical character. Regulations within these overlays ensures that new development and facade alterations are designed and constructed in a manner that respects the sense of place evoked by these areas, reinforces the character of these areas, and ensures a high quality of development.

All development applications for either a permitted or a discretionary use, which include new construction or facade alterations, are circulated to the Municipal Historic Resource Board for comment and review, prior to review and decision by the Municipal Planning Commission.

Further information can be found in Schedule 17 of the Land Use Bylaw.

I want to start a business, do I need a business licence?

All businesses that operate within Crowsnest Pass must hold a valid Business Licence. A business may be any trade, profession, occupation, industry, employment carried on for the purpose of profit or gain and invoicing for goods and services; and any activity providing goods and/or services whether or not for profit and however organized or formed, including a co-operative or association of persons. An application form may be picked up at the Municipal Office, or online. A Development Permit may also be required.

For more information, download our Business Licence Process brochure.

I want to start a home based business, do I need a permit?

Business that fall under Home Occupation – Class 1 do not require a development permit. The Municipal Planning Commission must decide upon development permit applications for businesses categorized as Home Occupation – Class 2.

All home based businesses require a Business Licence.

For full details, refer to our Home Business Occupation brochure.

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 the Municipality.

  • 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.

Do I need a permit for a sign?

Almost all signs in the Municipality of Crowsnest Pass require a development permit. Those not requiring a permit are set out in Schedule 11 of the Land Use Bylaw. You can also find further information on applying for a sign development permit in out Thinking About Putting up a Sign? brochure.

My property is for sale and I need a Compliance Certificate. What is it and how do I get one?

If you are selling or financing your property, you may be required to apply for a certificate of compliance. This is a letter issued by the Municipality confirming that the location of buildings on a property conforms to the requirements of the Land Use Bylaw in terms of siting, coverage and setbacks. The compliance review is based on a Real Property Report (RPR) prepared by an Alberta Land Surveyor.

To obtain a compliance certificate, an application needs to be made in writing (e.g, with an accompanying letter or with a completed application form), must include an original or otherwise acceptable Real Property Report, and the applicable fees. For more information download our Compliance Certificate brochure.

What is a Real Property Report?

A Real Property Report is a survey of a property conducted by an Alberta Land Surveyor. It will show all relevant visible public and private improvements (i.e. dwellings, garages, sheds, fences, walls etc.), the distances from property lines, easements and utility right-of-ways and any encroachments onto or from other properties, easements or utility right-of-ways.

It generally takes the form of a plan or illustration of the various physical features of the property including a written statement detailing the surveyor’s opinions or concerns; it can therefore be relied upon by the buyer, the seller, the lender, and the municipality as an accurate representation of the improvements on your property.

A Real Property Report is the only true way of knowing the legal boundaries of the property one is buying or selling.

Where can I find a copy of the Land Use Bylaw?

A PDF of the Land Use Bylaw can be found here.

Can I request an amendment to the Land Use Bylaw?

The Land Use Bylaw is the ‘rule book’ for development in the Municipality of Crowsnest Pass. The Land Use Bylaw divides the Municipality into Districts that regulate development type and form by suggesting uses (permitted & discretionary), setbacks, parcel coverage, building height, parking requirements and other performance measures.

A Land Use Bylaw Amendment is the process of re-designating the District (zoning) of a property from one to another, for example from R-1 Residential to R-3 Multiple Residential. A Land Use Bylaw amendment might also be the amending of regulation by updating text.

An application for a Land Use Bylaw amendment may be initiated either by the property owner or by the Municipality. If you are the property owner, or an agent acting on behalf of the property owner, you may wish to apply for an amendment to develop your site in a manner that is not allowed by the current zoning.

To find out more information on the process, refer to our Applying for a Land Use Bylaw Amendment brochure.

How do I apply for a Subdivision?

The Oldman River Regional Services Commission administers subdivisions for the Municipality.

Where can I find a copy of the Municipal Development Plan?

A PDF of the Municipal Development Plan can be found here.

Where do I apply for a permit or submit an application?

All relevant Development and Planning application forms can be found here, or alternatively may be picked up in person at the Municipality of Crowsnest Pass Development Office in Coleman.

Applications may be dropped off to the Development Office in person, or may be mailed to:

Development Office

Municipality of Crowsnest Pass

Box 600

Crowsnest Pass

AB, T0K 0E0

Applicants are advised to schedule an appointment with the Development Officer to review their proposal prior to submitting their application.

Can I store a Recreational Vehicle on my residential lot?

In GCR-1 and GCR-2 land use districts where a principle use has already been established (e.g. single family dwelling) up to 3 RVs may be stored on the parcel. The RV must be setback a minimum 3.0m (10 ft.) from a side or rear property line.

In R-1, R-1A, R-2, R-2A, R-3, R-4 & R-5 land use districts, a maximum of 1 RV per dwelling unit (not including secondary suites or apartment buildings without individual exterior ingress/egress) may be stored on the property provided that no part of the RV is on a municipal road allowance or lane and that the RV does not exceed 15% of the parcel area.

In no case shall a recreational vehicle be used for permanent living or sleeping accommodation.

I have a vacant property in Crowsnest Pass, can I use my RV as temporary accommodation?

In GCR-1 and GCR-2 land use districts where a principle use has not been established or approved, 1 RV may be stored on the parcel for no longer than 30 cumulative days in a calendar year. Where a principal use has been approved (development & building permits issued), 1 RV may be stored on the parcel for the period that construction is active.

In R-1, R-1A, R-2, R-2A, R-3, R-4 & R-5 land use districts, where a principal use has not been established or approved, no RVs may be stored on the parcel. Where a principal use has been approved (development & building permits issued), 1 RV may be stored on the parcel for the period that construction is active.

In no case shall a recreational vehicle be used for permanent living or sleeping accommodation.