Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Four things you need to know about the Community Standards Bylaw

When you ask Calgarians what they love about this city, the answer is often “the people.” While most of us do our best to be good neighbours, sometimes we need a little guidance to do the right thing. That’s where the Community Standards Bylaw comes in.

Updated at the end of 2016, the bylaw promotes good neighbour relationships and addresses community concerns by regulating noise, fire pit use, untidy properties, weeds and grass, graffiti and nuisances. When we engaged with citizens as part of our bylaw review, we heard the concerns many of you expressed about outdoor concert bass sound levels, wood-burning fire pits, upkeep of properties and delivery of flyers to homes with “no junk mail” signs. We made a number of amendments to address these concerns, and brought in other changes to make the bylaw easier to understand and use.

1. Fire Pits

Did you know that the Community Standards Bylaw lays out the requirements for using backyard wood-burning fire pits? The new regulations for fire pits include:
  • Using a mesh screen or spark guard to reduce the spread of embers and sparks
  • Extinguishing the flame by midnight on weekdays and 1 a.m. on weekends
  • Increased fines for unsafe fires and burning prohibited materials

The bylaw still covers other aspects of using wood-burning fire pits, such as:
  • Restricting the height of the flame to one metre
  • Building a fire pit out of acceptable materials and within maximum size limits
  • Listing materials that cannot be burned
  • Ensuring the fire pit is at least two metres from other structures and is not under a tree or overhanging branches
  • Ensuring you have a means of extinguishing the fire on hand and that you put it out before you leave it unattended

2. Noise

While many Calgarians love their outdoor concerts and festivals, there are those who prefer peace and quiet. The Community Standards Bylaw helps reduce noise concerns for Calgarians by regulating the maximum sound levels that outdoor concerts can reach when measured from a home. The bylaw sets a new limit of 85 dBC for outdoor concert sound to reduce the impact of bass music while still allowing concert goers to enjoy the experience. Mid- and high-frequency sound still has a limit of 65 dBA. There are also increased fines for noise exceeding allowable limits.

3. Flyers

While some Calgarians appreciate getting information from organizations around the city others consider flyers junk mail. Flyers, including non-commercial flyers, cannot be delivered to homes with “no flyer” signs. There are a few exemptions, however, so you’ll still get election advertising, newspaper subscriptions, community newsletters, and information provided by government and elected officials.

4. Upkeep of properties

Calgary is known as one of the world’s most desirable cities to live in, and pride of ownership plays a big part in that. Since we can have different opinions on what is considered unsightly, the Community Standards Bylaw sets out rules based on what most people consider reasonable when it comes to upkeep of properties. We’ve increased the fines for bylaw violations. This helps maintain the deterrent effect for offences that cause an unsightly condition, create a public safety concern or attract pests. This includes long grass and weeds, and accumulation of building materials stored improperly, offensive materials and harmful fluids.

Want to know more or have a concern or complaint?

Read the Community Standards Bylaw, or call 311 for more information. To log a complaint about these and other bylaw infractions, call 311, or submit a service request using our 311 app or on The City’s web site.


  1. When you find a place to buy a fire pit mesh screen let me know.

    1. They come with most pre-made firepits now. Check out your local hardware store.

  2. wood burning fire puts should be replaced by gas burning ones. no smoke and no sparks. much nicer for neighbors

    1. Freedom of choice! Wood is far less harmful to the environment if you do your research!