Building a Commercial Space

All new projects must comply with the Land Use Bylaw and Alberta Safety Codes.

This page is to provide information relating to new development/building projects which are commercial, industrial, institutional or mixed-use.

Business owners and contractors should consult with a design professional before financially committing to a location, as the cost to make necessary upgrades or changes to a building may be expensive. A business license cannot be issued for a space that does not satisfy the requirements of the Alberta Building Code.

Commercial Development Permits

A development permit is always required for any proposed commercial, industrial, institutional and mixed-use building. Depending on the intended land use district, the proposed development may be permitted, not permitted or it may be at the discretion of the City Planning Officer.

Apply for a commercial, industrial, institutional or mixed-use development permit:

Apply online

New to ePermit?
See user guide

Need assistance?

  • We can help you with our online application. Contact us by email or phone 403-529-8374.
  • Or visit us in person (Mon-Fri 8:30 am-4:30 pm):
    Planning & Development Services
    2nd floor, City Hall
    580 1st Street SE, Medicine Hat
  • Whether you apply online or in person, additional documents will be needed such as site plan, elevation plans, floor plans and utility line information. If you have questions about the specific documents needed for your application, we can provide guidance.

To learn more about land use districts and rezoning land, visit:


Commercial Building Permits

building permit is required for all new construction projects. It may also be required when a new type of operation will be moving into a space, or when a business is changing ownership, even if no construction is planned. This ensures that the building meets health and safety requirements, as the approvals may differ from the previous operator in the location.

To apply for a building permit, visit:

Building Permits

A commercial, industrial, institutional or mixed-use project may also require trade permits for plumbing, gas, electrical or mechanical work. These must be obtained by professional trades contractors prior to any such work being done.

To apply for a trade permit, visit:

Trade Permits

A building permit is required when:

  • The space has a new use (e.g. a retail store changes to a restaurant)
  • Any construction is being done, including structural or partition wall changes, mechanical, plumbing, gas or electrical work
  • The mechanical equipment needs to be upgraded to meet building code, due to a change in use (e.g. car detailing to engine repair affects ventilation rates; using a forklift in a warehouse may require additional ventilation)
  • Adding an accessory building or sea-can which is over 10m2 in area to the property
  • You are the first tenant in a space
  • A health review is required: restaurants, daycares, pools, personal services (such as hair salons, massage centers, tattoo parlours, nail salons)
  • There is a change in kitchen or mechanical ventilation equipment or new equipment being installed.
  • There is a change to the occupant load

A building permit is not required when:

  • The use and space remain unchanged (e.g., office to office or retail to retail).
  • The updates are cosmetic only (e.g., painting or changing fixtures).

How long does it take?

Building permit

A building permit for a minor improvement may be issued within 21 business days, provided code requirements are met and all necessary documentation is provided in the application. The timeline of a permit application will increase if amendments or resubmissions are needed from the applicant.


Trade permits

Trade permits relate to specific skilled trades (electrical, plumbing, gas or mechanical). To be issued trades permits, you must either have a Business License or be associated with a licensed contractor. Some trades permits may be processed within 1 business day from when the application is submitted.

Enlisting help from professionals

Changes to existing commercial buildings

For reasons of public safety, hiring a professionals such as an engineer and/or architect is often mandatory in the design and field review of a commercial project. For full information about professional involvement standards, click below:

Professional involvement

Building classification

Each business activity is associated with a building classification in the Alberta Building Code. Due to the complexities involved, a designer or architect should do a building code analysis of the building and ensure it is suitable for your business. A professional analysis will identify the building occupancy classification of the building and the rules related to that class.

Alberta Building Code

Barrier-free design

Reasonable access to facilities is required to ensure that everyone has the same opportunities to be active, independent and safe within the community.

To download a free barrier-free design guide, visit:

Alberta Safety Codes Council

Energy Codes

When applying for a building permit for a new building or an addition, drawings must include details which show compliance to:

  • Section 9:36 of Alberta's Building Code, or
  • Canada's Energy Code NECB


When applying for a building permit, the requirement list will indicate what you need to apply. Drawings must be accurate, legible and contain necessary information on mechanical, plumbing and electrical systems, as well as details on washrooms, fire ratings and any other affected areas covered by the Alberta Building Code. Review the requirement list carefully to ensure all necessary items are included.

Codes and standards available online

Electronic editions of the following codes are available free of charge: