Development Permit FAQs

Q. What is a development in Beaver County?   

A. Development in Beaver County is regulated by Land Use Bylaw 98-801, as amended.  Most development requires a development permit and is defined in the Bylaw as follows: 

(a) an excavation or stockpile and the creation of either of them, or

(b) a building or an addition to, or replacement or repair of a building and the construction or placing of any of them in, on, over or under land, or

(c) a change of use of land or a building or an act done in relation to land or a building that results in or is likely to result in a change in the use of the land or building, or

(d) a change in the intensity of use of land or a building or an act done in relation to land or a building that results in or is likely to result in a change in the intensity of use of the land or building.

The definition also includes the demolition or removal of a building or the placement of an already constructed or partially constructed building on a lot.

Q. When do I need a development permit? 

A. Most development in Beaver County requires a development permit. The following development does not require a development permit, although other permits under the Alberta Safety Codes Act or other legislation or regulations may be required:

(a) The carrying out of works of maintenance or repair to any building, provided that such works do not include structural alterations or major works of renovation, including:
      i)   minor utilities, the definition of which shall be as determined at the sole discretion 
           of the Development Authority;
     ii)   private driveways and patios accessory to a dwelling;
    iii)   an unenclosed deck or a deck enclosed by a rail or parapet wall, with a floor less than 1 m (3.3 ft.) in elevation above grade;
    iv)   landscaping where the existing grade and surface drainage pattern 
          is not materially altered;

(b) The completion of a building which was lawfully under construction at the date of the approval of the Bylaw, provided that the building is completed in accordance with the terms of any permit granted in respect of it and subject to the conditions to which the permit was granted and provided also that the building, whether or not a permit was granted in respect of it, is completed within a period of twelve months from the said date of the approval;

(c) The use of any such buildings allowed under Section 1.4(b) of the Bylaw; 

(d) The erection or construction of gates, fences, or walls or other means of enclosure and the maintenance, improvement and other alterations of any such gates, fences, or walls, except as follows:

i) In the Agricultural District, no gates, fences, or walls or other means of enclosure will be allowed where such gates, fences, or walls abut on a road or a highway used by vehicular traffic within the setback area shown in Figures 9.2 - 9.6;

ii) In the Country Residential District, a Development Permit will be required for gates, fences, or walls or other means of enclosure on corner lots or where abutting on a road or a highway used by vehicular traffic, and for gates, fences, or walls greater than 1.84 metres (6 feet) in height in front, rear, or side yards;

iii) In the Urban General District, a Development Permit will be required for gates, fences, or walls or other means of enclosure on corner lots or where abutting on a road or a highway used by vehicular traffic, and for gates, fences, or walls greater than 0.92 metres (3 feet) in height in front yards and greater than 1.84 metres (6 feet) in rear or side yards;

(e) A temporary building, the sole purpose of which is incidental to the erection or alteration of a building for which a permit has been issued under this Bylaw, and which is not a dwelling or used as a dwelling;

(f) The maintenance and repair of public works, services and utilities carried out by or on behalf of federal, provincial and municipal public authorities on land which is publicly owned or controlled;

(g) The erection or construction of fencing for extensive agricultural uses;

(h) The development of land for extensive agricultural purposes, excepting for:
       i) a dwelling;
      ii) a garage;
     iii) permanent farm buildings and dugouts located within 38.0 m (125 ft.) of the centreline of a rural County road, or within 63.7 m (209 ft.) of the centreline of a secondary road, or within 71.6 m (235 ft.) of the centreline of a primary highway;

(i) The development of land for a confined feeding operation or a manure storage facility within the meaning of the Agricultural Operation Practices Act if the confined feeding operation or the manure storage facility is the subject of an approval, registration or authorization under Part 2 of that Act.

(j) The demolition or removal of a building or improvement.

(k) Change of hours of operation of any permitted use development in the Landfill and Composting District for which a development permit has been issued.

(l) Change of sequence of development of cells within a landfill for which a development permit has been issued.

For more information, contact Jessica Lui, Development Officer, at 780-663-3730 or jlui@beaver.ab.ca.

Q. What permits are needed for my project?

A. Development Permit 
Before you begin your project, you must obtain a development permit from the County. A Development Permit Application or a Home Occupation and Commercial Application may be downloaded from the link above or by visiting the Beaver County Service Centre in Ryley. Please note, a development permit does not excuse the applicant from satisfying all other applicable municipal, provincial and/or federal requirements.

Safety Codes Permit
Once a development permit is issued, you may also require Safety Codes Permits, including the following: Building PermitPlumbing PermitPrivate Sewage Disposal PermitGas Permit and Electrical Permit. We recommend applicants review the Permits and Compliance Reference Guide. The required permits must be obtained prior to the start of construction. Please remit payment and the application forms to The Inspections Group Inc.

Please note, beginning December 1, 2017, the Province of Alberta requires all builders to have a builder licence in order to construct new homes. This is required prior to obtaining a building permit. Please click here for more information.

Alberta Transportation Permit
Please note, if you are located within 0.8 km (0.5 miles) of a primary or secondary highway, you must get approval from Alberta Transportation by completing an Alberta Transportation Roadside Application and mailing it to the Vermilion Alberta Transportation office. A development permit cannot be issued until approval is received from Alberta Transportation.

Q. Who can apply for these permits?

A. The registered owner(s) of the land or an authorized person acting on the landowner(s) behalf may apply for a Development Permit. Most of the time, the landowner applies for the Development Permit and Building Permits, and the specific trades apply for the Electrical, Gas, Plumbing and Private Sewage Disposal Permits.

Q. What is the difference between a permitted and discretionary use?

There are two types of uses in every district: permitted and discretionary. Permitted uses are approved by the Development Authority upon meeting the regulations in the Land Use Bylaw. Decisions cannot be appealed unless the provisions of the land use bylaw were relaxed, varied, or misinterpreted. Discretionary uses are assessed and approved on a case by case basis based on the compatibility and impact of the proposed development with adjacent developments and the surrounding area. Discretionary permits may be referred to adjacent landowners and various agencies for comments. Once a decision is made, the permit will advertised for two consecutive times in the Beaver County Chronicle. Following that, there will be a fourteen (14) day appeal period. Compliance with the County Municipal Development Plan and Land Use Bylaws are required for all development and uses.

Q. How much do these permits cost?

A. Please refer to the Development Permit Application Fee Schedule for a complete list of fees. The fees for building, plumbing, private sewage disposal, gas, and electrical permits vary on the type of permit.

Q. What type of plans do we need to apply for a Development Permit?

A. The County requires a site plan of your proposed development indicating distances from property lines, size of building, driveway/access, and distance from the driveway to the quarter section line (for addressing purposes), distance form water lines, power lines, wells, and septic. A copy of the floor plan or blueprints will also be required if applicable.

Q. How long does it take to get a Development Permit?

A. Processing times for a Development Permit application vary depending on the type of development.  The Development Authority must make a decision on a Development Application within 40 days of receipt of the completed application, although typically development approval is granted much sooner.  A permitted use is usually issued within 3-5 working days.  A discretionary use usually takes 4-6 weeks due to extra processing requirements.

Please note that obtaining a development permit does not relieve the permit holder from complying with:

  • The requirements of the Alberta Safety Codes Act.
  • The requirements of any other appropriate federal, provincial or municipal legislation.
  • The conditions of any caveat, covenant, easement or other instrument affecting a building or land.

Q. Once I have a Development Permit, how long is it valid?

A. If the development authorized by a permit is not commenced within twelve (12) months from the date of its issue, the permit is deemed void, unless an extension to this period has been granted by the Development Authority prior to the expiry date.

Q. How close to the property lines can we build?

A. The setbacks to the property lines vary depending on the land use district in which the property is located and the type of road that is adjacent. Contact the Planning & Development Department to get exact information on the setback requirements in your particular land use district.

Q. What if my development is refused?

A. A decision of a development permit or a refusal may be appealed to the Subdivision and Development Appeal Board. You or your authorized agent may appeal a decision of refusal or any condition attached to an approval. To appeal, you must send a written notice, stating reasons, and the $200 appeal fee within 21 days of the date of decision to the Development Authority. Click on How to Appeal Planning Decision for more information.

Q. Is there a minimum house size?

A. Yes, Beaver County restricts the minimum size of a house in the Country Residential District and the Urban General District to 74.3 m² (800 ft²); or in the case of a split level or bi-level, the first floor above ground level must be a minimum of 55.7 m² (600 ft²). In the case of mobile homes, additions are not included in the calculation of the minimum floor area. The developer may also have a restriction on house sizes and this would be identified in a caveat registered against the property. In the Agricultural District, there is no restriction on house size.

Q. How much will property taxes be for a new house?

A. Property taxes vary depending on the values of the property and house. For more information on property taxes, please contact the County's Assessment Department at (780) 663-3730.

Q. Do we need a Permit to build a deck?

You do not need a Permit for an unenclosed deck that is less than 1.0 m (3.3 ft.) in elevation above grade.  

Q. Do we need a Permit for a fence?

No permit is required for the construction of gates, fences, or walls or other means of enclosure and the maintenance, improvement and other alterations of any such gates, fences, or walls, except as follows:

i) In the Agricultural District, no gates, fences, or walls or other means of enclosure will be allowed where such gates, fences, or walls abut on a road or a highway used by vehicular traffic within the setback area shown in Figures 9.2 - 9.6;

ii) In the Country Residential District, a Development Permit will be required for gates, fences, or walls or other means of enclosure on corner lots or where abutting on a road or a highway used by vehicular traffic, and for gates, fences, or walls greater than 1.84 metres (6 feet) in height in front, rear, or side yards;

iii) In the Urban General District, a Development Permit will be required for gates, fences, or walls or other means of enclosure on corner lots or where abutting on a road or a highway used by vehicular traffic, and for gates, fences, or walls greater than 0.92 metres (3 feet) in height in front yards and greater than 1.84 metres (6 feet) in rear or side yards;

Q. Do we need permits for farm buildings, such as barns or shops?

A. Depending on the location of your property, a Development Permit may be required. If you are in the Agricultural District, development for extensive agricultural purposes does not require a Development Permit unless located within setback restrictions.  However, other permits under the Alberta Safety Codes Act may be required.  If you are in the Country Residential District, you must obtain a Development Permit. 

Q. Are we allowed to build a second dwelling on our property?

A. A second or additional dwelling is a discretionary use in most districts.  A development permit is required and will be assessed on an individual basis.

Q. Who do we contact to obtain approval for an access approach to our property?

A. The Public Works Department can assist in the process for obtaining approval for accesses to rural properties. They can be reached at (780) 663-3730. 

Q. We are selling our property and have been asked for a Compliance Certificate.  What is it?

A. Prior to approving a mortgage, many financial institutions now require a compliance certificate to ensure that the property complies with municipal bylaws. A Real Property Report, prepared by a qualified surveyor, is reviewed by the Development Officer to ensure that improvements on the property have valid Development Permits, and comply with the zoning, floor area, and setback requirements of the Land Use Bylaw. Compliance with Safety Codes regulations is not covered by Beaver County’s Letter of Compliance.  Click here for more information.

Q. What is my municipal address?

A. Call the Beaver County Service Centre if you don’t know your municipal address. Bylaw No. 00-816 requires that every occupied parcel of land have its municipal address displayed; and that every person who obtains a Development Permit for the construction of a commercial, residential, or industrial development erect an address sign within three months. 

For more information, contact Jessica Lui, Development Officer at 780-663-3730 or jlui@beaver.ab.ca.

Q. What happens if there is a restricted covenant, easement, or caveat on my property?

A.  Check that your proposed development, building, or structure will not conflict with any restrictive covenant, easement, or caveat registered against the title to the subject lands.  Before any action is taken we advise you to search your land title to determine if a restrictive covenant, easement or caveat is registered against the land.  Be warned that a landowner or stakeholder with an interest in the restrictive covenant, easement, or caveat registered against your title is entitled to take legal action against you should you violate or fail to comply with the requirements of the covenant, easement, or caveat.