We are improving services, innovating and evolving to remove red tape for our customers. We’re working to enable reliable service for our customers. 

Permit and Licensing Improvements

This initiative is focused on development permits, building permits and inspections and business licence services for homeowners, business owners and contractors who support them.

The goal is to improve customer and staff experience in a financially sustainable way. 

A few of the many ways we’re improving services for customers are listed below.

Service Improvements

Setting Service Levels (Timeline Targets)

In progress(to be completed in fall 2021) - Establishing timeline targets for planning, permitting and licensing services. Setting timeline targets will guide future improvement projects to help us meet target timelines in the long term and help guide customer expectations about how long it will take for various services.

This helps Edmonton businesses by:

  • Setting clear expectations on how long a service will take, thus enabling customers to plan ahead
  • Moving the City towards predictable timelines and service levels
Online Permit Services


Online services allow customers to apply, pay fees and view the status of their application. Some services include digital plan review.
In Progress (2021) - Based on customer feedback, further refinements are being made to the online services to improve customer experience and their success online. These include new user account setup and on-boarding, changes to help improve the quality and completeness of application submissions, eServices portal dashboard enhancements, and improving collaboration of permit review feedback and responses to information requests.

Complete - Since 2014, over 45 services have been moved online or improved. Over 90% of permit and licence applications are now received online, up from 70% before COVID-19.  

This helps Edmonton businesses by:

  • Providing the convenience of applying online
  • Improving the application experience with tips and examples
  • Providing the convenience of paying online
  • Providing transparency by showing the application status
Risk-based Approach to Reduce Permit Clearances (Building Permits)

Complete (June 2020) - Used a risk-based approach to develop criteria to determine when commercial businesses require a building permit clearance check before a business licence is issued. This reduced the time it takes for customers to get a business licence from 20 days down to about 10 days when they don’t also need a building permit.

This helps Edmonton businesses by:

  • Making it faster to get a business licence
  • Focusing City staff time on businesses that require a permit
Temporary Patio Extension (COVID-19 Economic Recovery)

Complete (May 2020) - Quickly introduced a new permit and fee-free program for outdoor patios, sidewalk cafés and retail sales to allow restaurants and retail shops to temporarily create and expand patios in response to the pandemic. There were 110 businesses signed up to the program in 2020, compared to 149 signed up as of June 1, 2021. This compares with 34 restaurants with patios pre-COVID in 2019.

This helps Edmonton businesses by:

  • Offering businesses a way to create additional customer capacity and mitigate COVID-19 impacts
Safety Codes Remote Video Inspections

Complete (June 2020) -Implemented Remote Video Inspections (RVI) for building and trade permit (HVAC, plumbing, gas and electrical) inspections of occupied construction sites to allow these inspections to continue virtually during the pandemic. As of June 1, 2021, 11,700 RVIs have been conducted.

This helps Edmonton businesses by:

  • Allowing business and homeowners to continue to access services while ensuring the safety of both customers and staff.
Sign Permit Digital Service

Complete (September 2020) - Moved sign permits application to a digital service, allowing for 99% of sign permits to be applied for online and cutting processing times in half. Improvements also included removing the building permit step and allowing customers to pay online.
This helps Edmonton businesses by:

  • Cutting processing timelines in half
  • Removing building permit requirements
  • Allowing for online applications and payments
Improve Commercial Permitting / Business Licensing Service Delivery and Experience

In Progress (to be completed in 2021) - A number of changes to services to improve business licence and change of use/interior alterations permit service reliability.

Complete (May 2021)- Allowing some interior demolition work to proceed while awaiting commercial interior alteration building permit approval which helps businesses open doors sooner.

Complete (2020)- Moved business licence applications online (no more email applications), reduced commercial development permit processes not required by regulation, and simplified fire safety plan requirements for commercial renovation projects. 

This helps Edmonton businesses by:

  • Removing unnecessary steps from the process
  • Responding to customer needs by allowing partial construction on commercial renovation projects
Improve Home Improvement Permit Service Delivery and Experience

In Progress (complete in 2021) - Improvements to residential services are focused on helping homeowners submit complete applications, increasing service automation, and adapting customer support to digital channels.

Complete (Sept 2021) - Customers applying for detached garage permits online will now benefit from an improved process that uses automation to check simple, lower-risk applications for completeness and compliance with the zoning bylaw and applicable building code requirements. Permits that meet the criteria for automated review will be issued in as little as one day.

Complete (June 2021) - The City receives over 1,000 uncovered deck permit applications each year. Up to 50% of these applications are for simple, low-risk decks, which can now be reviewed using automation and the permit issued the at the time of application.

Complete (March 2021) - Streamlined and simplified application requirements for uncovered decks and detached garages.

This helps Edmonton citizens by:

  • Reducing permit timelines
  • Responding to customer needs by offering enhanced support through digital channels
Inspector Mobility - Route Optimization and Mobility App

In Progress (completed by July 2021) - Using technology to support Safety Code inspectors to more efficiently complete on-site tasks and introducing route optimization software to reduce driving time.

This helps Edmonton businesses by:

  • Increasing the ability to meet requested inspection dates for customers

Regulation Changes

Open Option Parking

Complete (June 2020) - Removed minimum parking requirements from the Zoning Bylaw to enable Open Option Parking. Developers, homeowners and businesses can now decide how much on-site parking to provide on their properties. 

This helps Edmonton businesses by:

  • Making it easier for small businesses to open or for developers to provide a range of housing options
  • Making it easier to get a business licence and development permit
  • Reducing the need for expensive parking studies during development permit review
Development Permits not Required

Complete (November 2018, expanded March 2021) - Removed the development permit requirement for 25 types of use classes in the Zoning Bylaw, which helps reduce barriers in selecting a location for a business.

This helps Edmonton businesses by:

  • Removing an application (1 of the 3 that may be required)
  • Reducing the cost required for City approvals
Zoning Bylaw Omnibus for Service Improvements

In progress (changes to be implemented throughout 2021) - Introducing a number of amendments to the Zoning Bylaw (see items 3.5 and 3.6) that support immediate needs to reduce cost, improve service timelines and reduce regulation and process barriers.
This helps Edmonton businesses by:

  • Providing flexibility to make effective service improvements that can help improve timelines and reduce costs
  • Providing clarity in the regulations
Business Licence Bylaw Renewal

In progress (to be completed in 2021) - Create a new Business Licence Bylaw that supports economic vibrancy and service efficiency.

This helps Edmonton businesses by:

  • Removing barriers and improving services
  • Supporting faster decisions for new types of businesses
  • Improving coordination with regulatory partners for a more timely and effective response to compliance issues
Zoning Bylaw Renewal

Zoning Bylaw Renewal Initiative

In progress (to be completed in 2022) - A comprehensive overhaul of the current Zoning Bylaw that involves rethinking how, what and why the City regulates in terms of zoning and land development. This work will strategically align our city-building tools from the top down—from strategy to regulation—and empower all Edmontonians and property owners to build the city envisioned in ConnectEdmonton and as described in The City Plan.
This helps Edmonton businesses by:

  • Creating a modern regulatory environment that focuses on simplifying and streamlining requirements to support efficient service delivery
  • Removing unnecessary barriers for residents, businesses and developers who want to invest in our community

Focused Services

Client Liaison Unit

Ongoing - Enhanced Service to support the building industry on major commercial, industrial, and large-site mixed-use infill projects through all stages of the approval process.
This helps Edmonton businesses by:

  • Providing additional support to select customers whose business development projects have significant impacts on Edmonton's prosperity and growth objectives
  • Enhancing Edmonton's reputation as a place to build and invest
COVID-19 Economic Recovery

Ongoing (March 2020 onward) - Many recovery initiatives were launched to support businesses through COVID-19:

  • Centralized support through edmonton.ca/BusinessInfo for businesses
  • Edmonton Economic Recovery Grant launched to support businesses
  • Business licence fees were reduced by 50% in 2020 and 2021
  • Dispatch and vehicle licence fees reduced by 100% for limousines and 50% for all other vehicles for hire in 2020 and 2021.
  • Business Improvement Area (BIA) Tax Levy Payment Deferral in 2020 for businesses located in BIAs
  • Property Tax Relief for property owners in 2020
  • City-owned Property Rent Forbearance for tenants of City-owned buildings and facilities in 2020

This helps Edmonton businesses by:

  • Helping business recover, relaunch, and pivot due to the impacts of COVID-19
One on One Program

Ongoing - Small business owners can access one-on-one support to navigate the processes of starting a business.
This helps Edmonton businesses by:

  • Providing individualized support to business opening in Edmonton  
Small Business Workshops

Ongoing - Businesses can access workshops to learn about the process of starting specific types of business such as home-based business or microbreweries.

This helps Edmonton businesses by:

  • Providing an interactive way for business to get information they need to open in Edmonton
Commercial Building Grants

Ongoing - Businesses can access the Storefront Improvement Grant to improve the exterior of their business and the Development Incentive Grant to help with interior renovations and new development in targeted areas.

This helps Edmonton businesses by:

  • Providing funds to support businesses to improve their buildings
Pre-Application Meetings

Ongoing - Customers proposing commercial or industrial development, rezoning or subdivision can meet with staff before an application to proactively identify issues and clarify application requirements.

This helps Edmonton businesses by:

  • Helping businesses to refine their applications and investment in Edmonton
  • Helping business submit complete applications
Cannabis Legalization

Ongoing - Created a team of dedicated staff to ensure that cannabis retail stores could be open on day 1 of legalization in 2018. Six businesses were open door ready on legalization day, the most in the country.

This helps Edmonton businesses by:

  • Proactively responding to an emerging business opportunity. Businesses were able to apply for permits prior to legalization day

Ongoing - Key industry stakeholders are engaged on various projects including regulation and process changes which helps improve services.

This helps Edmonton businesses by:

  • Ensuring industry perspectives are considered in solutions to improve services and that they are aware of current regulations and processes


Building Permits and Inspections Dashboard

Complete (March 2020) - Customers can access an online dashboard—edmonton.ca/permitprocessingtimes—for information about when building permit applications will be assigned for review and when requests for inspections will be scheduled. 
This helps Edmonton businesses by:

  • Providing transparency about wait times
  • Giving customers more information about permits or inspections
Website Improvements


Complete (December 2019) - A range of online resources exist to help businesses. These pages continue to evolve as the services the support are improved. Customers can start at the Small Business Support hub that walks through the City’s permits and licence processes and provide essential information for small business owners.

This helps Edmonton businesses by:

  • Improving layout and content to focus on their customer experience
  • Explaining the City support for small business in a simple, easy to navigate way and providing linkages to relevant information on zoning, renovating and permits