Municipality FAQ's

What is the Safety Codes Act?

The Safety Codes Act is a legislated framework that establishes unifying administration to ten safety disciplines. Within each discipline, each has their own specific safety codes that further guide and direct required or restricted courses of actions. The framework of the Safety Codes Act assists with the development of a comprehensive safety system relating to design, construction, operation and maintenance of buildings, equipment and materials in a variety of settings.

How does the safety codes system work?

Alberta’s safety code system relies on a system of partnerships to provide and promote permit and inspection services to Albertans. Some of these partnerships include accredited municipalities, unaccredited municipalities, accredited agencies and corporations, Alberta Safety Codes Authority, Safety Code Council and more. Every group plays a vital role in the delivery, management and oversight of safety services in Alberta.

What is accreditation?

The framework from the Safety Codes Act provides the means for accreditation of organizations so they may assume responsibility for the delivery and management of the Safety Codes Act at a local level. Municipalities may apply to the Safety Codes Council for accreditation on their own or with 1 or more municipalities through a joint accreditation. The Minister provides the approval and authority for such permissions and accreditation. The delivery and management of safety code services at a local level enables a municipality to be aware of work taking place within the municipality as well as the flexibility and means to address local trends, concerns or needs. Accreditation is a tool that many municipalities find valuable in the shaping and building of a safety system promoting excellence.

What is eSite?

eSITE is an electronic means of permit issuance and record management. It is the electronic Safety Information Tracking Environment. This system is system is designed and maintained by a business unit within the Safety Codes Council, eBS. (electronic Business Solutions) eSITE can be used by accredited agencies and municipalities for the issuance, tracking, monitoring and record maintenance of permits and inspection services. As an agency, we promote the use of eSITE as it provides transparent access between a municipal and agency partnership and supports continual communication or oversight of projects as well as our activity as your service provider. As this system is maintained by the Safety Code Council, it provides peace of mind relating to long term availability and sustainability.

What is the Permit Regulation?

Establishes permit requirements establishes permit requirements for Building, Electrical, Plumbing, Gas and Private Sewage disciplines. It provides the guidelines that stipulate who can obtain a permit, what situations do not require permits, the cancellation or expiring of permits and more.

What is a QMP & why does it matter?

QMP is a Quality Management Plan. This document describes the extent of safety services that a municipality will deliver or manage upon accreditation. This document sets the framework under which the delivery and management of safety services will operate, whether that be in house with Safety Codes Officers on staff or through a service delivery contract with an Agency. The QMP defines what documentation is required for a permit, who can obtain a permit, process for no entry, expiry or cancellation as well timeframe for how long we have to respond to an inspection request or the timeframe for your project. It also stipulates inspection stages for various projects and what stages we are required to see.

The local delivery of safety codes at a local level through accreditation, enables a municipality to customize and create a system to meet their needs and objectives. It is a vital resource that assists a municipality to ensure safe and sustainable communities. Like any tool, the understanding and appreciation of it is key. However the maintenance of it is just as important in order to continue benefiting from its value. Being aware, engaged and informed ensures your QMP fits your needs and that of your community and ensures you are receiving the best through any channel of service delivery you select.

What or Who is ASCA?

ASCA stands for the Alberta Safety Codes Authority. As of May 1, 2016-ASCA oversees the provision of safety code compliance in unaccredited municipalities. The Minister of Alberta Municipal Affairs permitted the Safety Code Council to create and establish ASCA to oversee permitting and inspection services in unaccredited areas. The compliance monitoring model of ASCA was to ensure increased oversight of safety codes services through standardized operating requirements and fees, which is delivered through accredited Agency’s like Park Enterprises. ASCA provides the oversight of these agencies to ensure their business model and contracted service agreements are being maintained and effectively delivered.

What do permits do?

All projects must comply with the codes and standards governed by the Province of Alberta. Permits are vital, not only because they are required by law, but they give you access to the expertise and experience of trained and qualified Safety Codes Officers to ensure projects are safe and compliant with today’s regulations before any costly mistakes are made. Permits and their corresponding safety inspections help to ensure the safety and functionality of undertakings and the peace of mind knowing projects have the oversight of our qualified professionals. Permits provide a record of due diligence to comply with the codes. The permitting system also informs the jurisdiction with the responsibility to administer the Safety Codes Act, that a project is taking place.

How do permits tie into our Land Use Bylaw?

Each municipality has a different Land Use Bylaw, establishing procedures and processing of development. A Land use Bylaw can assist in regulating the use and development of land and buildings within your municipality, in order to ensure orderly and efficient development. At times there are restrictions or limitations for certain developments or applications within the LUB, that otherwise may be permitted under the Safety Codes Act or various codes and standards.

It is important to communicate with your service delivery provider. Tying your weeping tile into the sanitary systems is allowable under the code, but may be restricted or not permitted in your LUB. Utilize the partnership with your service provider to inform them of any pertinent restrictions so while they are in the field and in communication with contractors and owners, they can assist with ensuring not only the codes and standards are met, but that your LUB is also upheld. This can assist in challenging back to you, needs, trends and challenges that you may not have been aware of.

When is a Building Permit not required?

A permit is not required for the following:
-Construction that does not exceed $5000 in prevailing market value and if there are no concerns affecting health and safety (Ie: a deck with a rise greater than 48″ may be under $5000 value, but does pose a threat to health and safety, therefore does require a building permit)
-Painting, decorating, re-roofing or re-siding if there is no structural changes and if there are no concerns affecting health and safety.

What is considered a 'farm building'?

The Alberta Building Code does not apply to farm buildings and therefore do not require a Building Permit. (You may still require a development permit from your Municipality) A farm building is a building that is used for the operation of a farm such as a barn. These would be structures that are used for the storage of hay, animals or machinery only. Out of interest for public safety, if building is to be used for maintenance or a workshop, it is not considered a ‘farm building’ and would require a building permit.  Any farm building, still requires applicable plumbing, gas and electrical permits.

is a permit required to replace a septic or holding tank?

Yes. The permit regulation does exempt some situations from requiring a permit such as the replacement of equipment for a private sewage disposal system when being replaced by a similar type if the replacement is being made for the maintenance of the system. The replacement of a holding tank or septic tank is outside the scope of parts or equipment such as filters or pumps, as is a primary component of a private sewage system. With changes in codes pertaining to minimum tank sizes, high level alarms and filters, it would be best to do due diligence and obtain a permit for this scope of work.

who can install a septic field?

The placement and functioning of a private sewage disposal system depends on a variety of factors including but not limited to property setbacks, size of parcel, soil, dwelling being serviced and location of water source/course. A homeowner can apply for a PSDS permit servicing their residential property, however we highly recommend consulting a certified contractor to ensure the preliminary evaluations are conducted accurately therefore ensuring a properly designed system to service your dwelling safely and in compliance with the Safety Codes Act.

what are the requirements for bedroom windows?

The Building Code article establishes the general requirement that bedrooms must have at least one window that is large enough that is large enough that it can be used as an exit in an emergency. This window must provide an unobstructed opening with a minimum area of .35m squared (3.77 ft squared or 543 sq inches), and no dimension less than 380mm (15″). The minimum window area must be achieved without having to remove window sashes or hardware. Also the window can’t require support when in the open position.

does the installation of a swimming pool require a building permit?

Any installation for a private swimming pool, hot tub and spa with a water depth greater that 600mm or 24″ at any point, requires a Building Permit. Fence and gate requirements will then apply, even if it is an on-ground swimming pool.

is a plumbing permit required if the rough in has been completed?

A plumbing permit is not required to change out fixtures if no design change to the piping system is taking place. If rough in plumbing has previously been completed and permitted, the installation of fixtures will not require another permit.

Do i need a permit to finish my basement?

Yes, you must obtain a building permit for any basement development. You must submit plans along with your permit application, showing the floor plan with proposed rooms and existing, the use of each room and dimension, details of any structural changes, locations of smoke alarms, location, size and swing of all doors and window sizes and location. This provides you with the expertise of our Safety Codes Officers through a plans review and onsite inspections to ensure the safety of you and your family.

what is a deficiency?

A deficiency is an item observed upon a site inspection that does not meet codes and standards. Deficiencies can be closed on the Permit Services Report as non-compliant. The deficiencies are clearly noted as non-compliant and it is under the owner’s role and responsibility to correct or accept liability due to continued non-compliance. Once a permit is closed non-compliant, an owner or contractor can submit a verification that the deficient items have been corrected. The file can be re-opened and previous deficiencies resolved.

A permit is never closed with imminent danger or items of life safety. Through your accreditation and partnership with your service provider, you can establish any processes to clarify or dictate the recording of, follow up and management of deficiencies.

Why should deficiencies be corrected?

Permits provide a level of security knowing that installations conforms to the safety standards adopted under the Safety Codes Act. It is highly recommended that the deficiencies are resolved. A non-compliant permit can affect the property owner in the following manner:

  • Issues respecting the sale of your property;
  • liability and property risks;
  • possible negligence lawsuit/litigation;
  • insurance claim issues;
  • and living in an un-safe environment.

While we aim to be understanding & flexible, at times there are items that must be corrected. We appreciate your support & understanding in assisting us to ensure due diligence when it comes to the investment in permits & projects.

How long are permits valid?

Work pertaining to an issued permit must commence within 90 days of permit issuance and cannot be suspended or abandoned for any amount of time exceeding 120 days. The timeframe allowed for each permit and scope of work varies, as stipulated in your Quality Management Plan.

What services are included with a permit?

When a permit is purchased, there is access to a variety of services. Including but not limited to, code advice and consultation from our knowledgeable staff and expert Safety Codes Officers, permit issuance, plans examinations and site inspections. Identification and follow-up of deficiencies and unsafe conditions, maintenance of files and records, remittance of provincial fees and reports including a final status report.