Special Events and Festival Planning

Tourism Medicine Hat logoAre you planning to organize a special event within Medicine Hat? Each event is unique, so please consider well in advance what permits and approvals you may need based on the details of your event (for example, whether your event includes stages/tents/structures, generators, concessions, alcohol, designated smoke/vape areas, fireworks/fire pits, road closures, etc.). Some applications must be submitted a minimum of 30 days prior to the event, and you are encouraged to submit earlier, if possible.

A special event is defined as an event held indoors or outdoors on private or public property and may deviate from the regular operation of the space or building.

Examples include but are not limited to:

  • events where products and services are available
  • farmers' markets, exhibits, or trade shows
  • carnivals, festivals, circuses
  • amusement parks, fairs, haunted houses
  • sporting or charity events
  • concerts
  • large public celebrations
  • block parties
  • haunted houses

Please review the requirements below or view the PDF version and make the appropriate applications.

Does your event impact pedestrian/traffic flow? Please take special note of the additional requirements in order to obtain Special Event Approval from the City Clerk Department.

Requirements for all special events

When you are planning an event, you might not even consider that you need a permit to run a generator or occupy a tent on public land. That's where this list can help. Review all the requirements below and click the links to fill out any applications that would apply to your event.

This is just a summary list. Please refer to the detailed requirements section below.

If your event impacts traffic

Will your event impact the flow of traffic or pedestrians by making use of City streets, roadways or sidewalks? If so, you also need to apply for Special Event Approval issued by the City Clerk Department at least 30 days prior to the event.


If the event is approved, a Special Event Approval letter will be issued to the organizer. The organizer must carry the letter and present it upon request. The City may withdraw approval at any time for reasons of non-compliance with regulatory requirements and/or in the interest of public safety.

Contact information

City Clerk:  403-529-8221  clerk@medicinehat.ca
Municipal Works:  403-502-8549  trafficaccom@medicinehat.ca
Fire Services:  403-529-8282  fireprevention@medicinehat.ca
Planning and Development Services:  403-529-8374  pbe@medicinehat.ca
Parks and Recreation:  403-502-8745  parksrecbooking@medicinehat.ca

Details of requirements for all special events

General Requirements
  1. All legislation, bylaws and regulations must be adhered to by all event organizers including, but not limited to:
    • Bylaws (available on City website):
      • Community Noise Standards Bylaw 4353
      • Public Roads Bylaw 4346
      • Parks Bylaw 2527
      • Land Use Bylaw 4168
      • Licensing Bylaw 2339
      • Outdoor Burning Bylaw 2703
    • Alcohol Management Policy 0130
    • Designated Smoke and/or Vape Area Management Policy 0172
    • Fire Services special event requirements
    • AGLC requirements
    • Alberta Health Services requirements
    • Occupational Health and Safety Act, regulation and code
  2. All signage for the event (i.e. advertising) must be in accordance with Land Use Bylaw 4168
  3. Distribution of flyers must be in accordance with the Public Roads Bylaw 4346
  4. The event organizer is required to obtain evidence of all necessary licenses/permits required to operate the event prior to the event
  5. The City of Medicine Hat does not have tables and/or chairs to supply or rent for events - organizers must arrange for private rentals
  6. Early in the planning stages, it should be determined whether First Aid Stations or Emergency Medical Personnel are required, and arrangements made with St. John Ambulance or other such service providers
  7. The organizer is responsible for leaving the area clean and litter-free and is responsible for any property damage that may occur during the event. The clean up and removal of garbage is to be completed by noon the next day
  8. The organizer may be charged for any clean-up costs incurred by the City of Medicine Hat to restore the location for regular use by the general public following the event
  9. The City of Medicine Hat encourages the recycling of materials such as cans and bottles


Fees and Charges

Organizers are liable for all fees and charges which may include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Facility/park rental
    • required to be paid in full upon booking or invoiced at end of booked month
    • a refundable damage deposit may be required
  • Equipment rental/services
    • required to pay all fees related to municipal property rental and services a minimum of ten (10) days prior to the event

    • Examples include:
      • Road closures pylons, portable stage, temporary traffic signs, barricades, water and electric hook up and service, utility consumption costs, turf recovery, site restoration, clean up
      • City staff man hours to assist in the set up/take down for the event, including, if required, equipment cost and overtime
      • Police Services traffic assistance/escorts/crowd control/security
  • Applicable Municipal/Provincial permits and licenses
    • Business License
    • Permits - building, food and beverage, alcohol, fire/fireworks
Insurance Requirements

For events that occur on City property, the event organizer must agree to indemnify, defend and hold harmless the City of Medicine Hat from and against any liability, loss, claims, demands, costs and expenses, legal fees due wholly or in part as a result of any negligence, acts or oversights by the event organizer, its agents, licensees, invitees, contractors, during the use of property or services.

Depending on the activities and/or type of event, the City of Medicine Hat will determine the minimum level of Commercial General Liability (CGL) insurance required by the organizer with the City of Medicine Hat named as an additional insured and including a Cross Liability clause. A 30-day notification prior to the cancellation of this policy must be included.

The requirements for insurance will be identified when reserving the venue/location. For events requiring a Special Event Approval, the City Clerk’s office will advise the organizer of the requirements as soon as reasonably possible after the application is received.

Need insurance for your event? 

We have a quick and seamless option if you need event insurance! You have the option to use Instant Risk Coverage (IRC). This online service is designed to simplify the process: just complete a quick form to receive an immediate quote, pay online, and benefit from pre-filled City facility details for a smoother experience. While optional, IRC offers a reliable and efficient way to secure event insurance quickly.

Get event coverage now

Fire Services
  • Special Event Permit
    • Application Form (must be made at least 30 days prior to the event)
    • Organizers will need to provide:
      • Floor plan/site plan
      • Emergency response plan
      • Special circumstances plan of use (if applicable)
  • Fireworks and Pyrotechnics Permit
    • Application Form
    • Organizers must apply for a permit to discharge fireworks and/or to have an open fire (i.e. fire pits). The organizer must carry a copy of the permit and present it upon request. The organizer must comply with the City of Medicine Hat’s Bylaw 2703 for outdoor fires and the Alberta Fire Code (Division B, Section 5.7) for the use of fireworks.
    • It is the responsibility of the organizer to notify the Medicine Hat Municipal Airport (403-526-4664) of the intention of discharging fireworks as well as the release of any other items into the air (i.e. balloons), the location and the applicable start and end times.
  • Capacity
    • Capacity levels of structures and/or outdoor sites will be determined by Fire Services. A fire safety inspection may be conducted by the City of Medicine Hat Fire Services prior to the event based on the site plan submitted.
Planning and Development
  • Tents and Stages
    • Tents, stages and other festival-type structures are considered to be buildings as defined by the Alberta Building Code 2006, and as such, event organizers are required to apply for a building permit any time a tent, stage or other festival-type structure is over 60 square meters and tents with cooking equipment is constructed, installed or erected, regardless of the duration or timing of the event.
    • Event organizers have a responsibility to ensure their temporary structures comply with the Alberta Building Code and apply for permits with the City of Medicine Hat.
    • Tents must be CAN/ULC-S109-M Flame Resistant Certified. There shall be no “open flame” cooking appliances operated inside the permitted tents. If cooking appliances are to be used, cooking appliances must conform to ULC standards and be CSA certified.
    • Any cooking that may produce grease-laden vapors is not permitted to be located inside a tent unless the requirements of NFPA 96 are met.
    • If NFPA 96 requirements are not met, appliances shall be located outside of the tents and may be protected from weather by a non-combustible cover no larger than 24 sq ft in total area. These appliances must be placed so that they are a minimum of one meter (1m) from the outside tent wall and protected from public access (fenced or barricaded).
    • A one-meter (1m) clearance surrounding the cooking appliance shall be maintained for the safe movement of public and staff.
    • It is the responsibility of the organizer to arrange for locates of buried services prior to the set up of any structure, such as tents or booths, for the event. It is the responsibility of the organizer to contact all other utilities in the area not listed below. Call at least two (2) full working days in advance of setting up any structures.

Gas and Electric Alberta One Call 800-242-3447
Water and Sewer 403-529-8171
Parks (Irrigation) 403-529-8333

  • Electrical Permits
    • Required for any portable generators.
  • Gas Permits
    • Required for any propane cylinders, singular or manifolded together, having a capacity larger than 454 litres.

Please allow one week for permit processing and issuance. A Final inspection is required and can only be completed once permit fees have been paid and the permit is issued. Please allow at least one business day for scheduling the Final inspection and ensure the inspection is completed prior to the start of the event.

Parks and Recreation - Vehicle Access

Vehicles are prohibited from traveling on pathways, trails, park service roads, or open space without prior written permission.

Vehicle Access Permit Application Form

Concession, Beverage and Food Services
These services must meet Alberta Health Services standards and requirements. Please contact Environmental Health Services at 403-502-8205 for further information to receive the appropriate approvals/permits/inspections. In the case of a Special Event Approval application, copies of any applicable approvals/inspections/permits must be provided to the City Clerk’s Office prior to the event. Permits must be posted in a prominent location at the event.
Liquor License

The organizer must comply with the City of Medicine Hat’s Alcohol Management Policy 0130 and any applicable legislation and regulations including, but not limited to, the Gaming and Liquor Act and the Gaming and Liquor Regulation. If the location does not comply with those listed with Policy 0130, adequate time is required to submit the request for approval from the Administrative Committee. Organizers are encouraged to identify the need for approval early in the process and plan accordingly.

The organizer is responsible for obtaining a Special Event Liquor License from the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission (AGLC) for the sale of alcohol during the Special Event. For detailed information on Special Event Licences; refer to AGLC’s website (www.aglc.gov.ab.ca). A copy of the Special Events Liquor License issued by the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission (AGLC) must be submitted to the City Clerk’s office prior to the event. The Special Events Liquor License must be posted in a prominent location at the event.

The organizer must ensure that minors and intoxicated persons are not served alcohol and that the area is under constant supervision and the access is restricted.

Smoking and Vaping

The City of Medicine Hat’s Outdoor Smoking and Vaping Bylaw restricts the use of smoking and vaping products in outdoor public spaces, other than where temporarily permitted by the Designated Smoke and/or Vape Area Management Policy 0172.

Upon application for Special Event Approval, organizers must indicate intent to include a designated area and identify the designated area on the submitted site map. Among other requirements, Policy 0172 details that the designated area must be clearly signed and under constant supervision to ensure that no minors or intoxicated persons are allowed entry.

Details of additional requirements for special events requiring traffic accommodation

Traffic/pedestrian impact maps

When temporary street closures, sidewalk closures, and/or parking restrictions are required which will impact traffic/pedestrian flows, the organizer must complete the Temporary Traffic Control (TTC) Request Form and include map(s) which detail:

  • the rally, walk, race or parade route,
  • all roadway closures or use,
  • required temporary traffic control signs/barricades, and
  • assembly and dispersal areas.  

The drawing must be in a legible format with street names clearly shown. Google Maps may be helpful to organizers. 

Questions related to a TTC request should be directed to the Engineer Technologist in Municipal Works. The Traffic Accommodation Plan must be approved by Municipal Works before Special Event Approval will be issued.

Site plans (also required by Fire Services in relation to Special Event Permit)

Maps detailing the specific locations and dimensions (where applicable) of:

  • temporary structures such as stages, seating/bleachers, tents, air-supported structures (e.g. bouncy castles), fencing, etc.
  • exits, entrances, parking, portable washrooms
  • beer gardens, food services, vendors
  • designated smoke/vape areas
  • activities/rides
  • first aid stations
  • emergency vehicle access (6 m clearance)
  • fireworks staging area
  • fire extinguishers/safety equipment
Street closures/traffic flows

For first-time events, it is the responsibility of the organizer to provide written notification to residents and/or businesses that will be affected by the street closure, as determined by the City. The organizer must have approval from a significant majority of businesses or residents who will be impacted by the closure, as determined by Municipal Works.  Please contact the City Clerk department for more information in this regard, as proof must be submitted with the application.

All temporary traffic control signage must be in accordance with the City of Medicine Hat’s Temporary Traffic Control Manual.

All traffic control personnel must be Alberta Construction Safety Association (ACSA) certified. Please refer to the ACSA website (http://www.acsa-safety.org/) for additional information and upcoming courses for Flag Person Training.  Some local companies may be able to provide flag person services.  The Municipal Works department will provide free flag training to any non-profit group volunteers who will be working within the road right-of-way. The “Special Event” flag training course will be valid only for the current Special Event year and may be used for multiple events during the year. Please contact Municipal Works (403-502-8549) to set up training or for further inquiries.

To arrange for the rental of barricades, pylons and signage, please contact Municipal Works (403-502-8549). The organizer is responsible to pick up and the return of the rented items.

The organizer will be solely responsible for any fees for services provided by the City of Medicine Hat to accommodate the street closures and/or parking restrictions.