Cynthia Culhane Lifelong Calgarian Serving Calgarians!!

Cynthia Culhane
REAL Broker
Calgary, AB
T2M 3Y7

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A Few Things You Should Know About Zoning When Looking at Calgary Commercial Real Estate

If there is one thing that typically seems confusing to Calgary commercial real estate clients – and especially the ones looking at business spaces for the first time – it’s the laws and regulations that surround the zoning process.
You probably already know that, in short, the zoning in a particular area or building dictates what kind of business or operations you can legally operate in that space. For instance, a property might be zoned as residential, industrial general, retail, and so on. Beyond that, however, figuring things out can get a little more complicated.
That’s because, within each zone, there are two types of operations: permitted and discretionary. Knowing the difference between the two, and what they mean for your commercial lease or purchase, can be very important. For that reason, I’ve included three tips you should keep in mind below.
Permitted uses are the ones you don’t have to worry about. Things that are included in permitted uses are the ones you don’t have to ask anyone about. For example, if a particular location is zoned for “retail” and you operate a gift shop, then you’re free to get started without any restrictions.
Discretionary uses are trickier. Running the type of business that isn’t necessarily included in the zone, or performing an operation that wouldn’t necessarily be normal to that type of business, indicates a “discretionary use.” These can be tougher to navigate, as they require special approval from the Calgary zoning board beforehand.
Getting zonal approval can take time. Applying for permission to operate under discretionary uses begins a process that can take up to a few months, and includes a review of the area, a look at the availability of things like streets and utilities, and even making contact with your commercial neighbors to see if they object. It’s not impossible to get approval for discretionary uses, but don’t count on your business getting up and running right away, either.

There is a lot more to understanding zoning when it comes to commercial real estate in Calgary, of course, but the best thing to do if you have specific questions isn’t to dig deep into the regulations – it’s to get a great Calgary commercial realtor to help you out. So, if you want to know what you can do in the space, or get help finding the right commercial property for you, contact my office today.


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