Outdoor patios and sidewalk cafés

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Outdoor / sidewalk cafés add to the vibrancy of street life in Downtown Medicine Hat. For an existing restaurant or bar to develop an outdoor café, various approvals are required to take into consideration any impacts to the surrounding community or streets and to help ensure the compatibility of the proposal and the safety and enjoyment of patrons.

Each situation is unique and there are a number of rules that must be met to determine whether any of the types of layouts can be accommodated, but in general the following applies:

Outdoor patios/cafés can potentially be located:
  • Wholly within private property lines (parking area and/or sidewalk)
  • Wholly on city sidewalk and/or curb lane
  • Combination of private and city property
The use of city property (sidewalk or curb lane) requires approval under the Public Roads Bylaw, which is administered by the Municipal Works Department.

Types of sidewalk / outdoor cafés and approvals required
There are three potential types or layouts that can be considered for an outdoor/sidewalk café. In terms of required approvals, development permit requirements apply to private land, and Public Roads Bylaw requirements apply to city land (sidewalk or road right-of-way), so depending on the type of outdoor café proposed, a Development Permit AND/OR Public Roads Bylaw approval may be required as indicated below.
Related info

Building a commercial space


Operating a food truck


NOTE: Development Permits are not required for sidewalk patios that are completely on public property (City sidewalk / street), however, Public Roads Bylaw approval is required.




Type 1: Outdoor Café within a parking area of a use on the same private parcel. A Development Permit is required.

Type 2: Outdoor Café adjoining a public sidewalk:

  1. Footprint on private sidewalk wholly within Private Parcel. A Development Permit is required. Applicant must be aware of property line.
  2. Footprint on a combination of private parcel and city public sidewalk. A Development Permit and Public Roads Bylaw approval are required.

Type 3: Sidewalk Café requiring redirection of pedestrians to temporary sidewalk deck constructed in curb lane.

  1. Footprint is on both private parcel and city public sidewalk, a Development Permit and Public Roads Bylaw approval are required.
  2. Footprint is entirely within city public sidewalk/road right-of-way, Public Roads Bylaw approval is required (no Development Permit is required. 


Getting approved

To apply for an outdoor patio / sidewalk café, follow these steps:

Call 403-529-8374
to request a pre-application meeting with a Planner for a "Sidewalk / Outdoor Café." This step can confirm property lines and the "footprint" of the proposed cafes in relation to private parcel and City sidewalk area, and any status of prior approvals or conditions already in effect on a given site. The Planner can advise you exactly what information besides a site plan will be required with the application.

icon_PDFExample Site Plan  This plan shows a sidewalk café entirely within a City sidewalk/road.

Before you submit your formal application, it is recommended that you:

•  Contact neighbours who may be affected as a way to identify and address any potential concerns.

  Determine the relevant liquor and food regulations, and confirm with Alberta Health Services (AHS) that your proposed food service meets regulations, particularly if you are planning to prepare food outside.

  Confirm with the Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis Commission (AGLC) that your proposed alcohol service meets regulations. In particular, be clear about whether or not your patio is connected to your premises or if liquor service would have to travel through an unlicensed area.



Please review these user guides before you apply online:
icon_PDFUser Guide for ePermit (Development Permits)
icon_PDFUser Guide for ePermit (Building Permits)


In person

You can print the form(s) you need from the list below, complete it and visit Planning & Development Services. Or just drop by and we will assist you.

icon_PDFSidewalk patio / outdoor café checklist: Private property only

icon_PDFSidewalk patio / outdoor café checklist: In road right-of-way

icon_PDFSidewalk patio / outdoor café checklist: Private property and in road right-of-way

icon_PDFSidewalk patio / outdoor café checklist: Building permit

icon_PDFBuilding permit application

A permit fee is payable when you apply. Therefore, applicants will typically pay in person at the counter of Planning & Development Services. The City accepts payments in cash, cheques and debit (not credit cards). See Fee Schedule

Planning & Development Services
2nd floor, Medicine Hat City Hall
580 1st Street SE
Phone 403.529.8374

A Development Officer will initially review the drawings and circulate the drawings to Safety Codes Services, and the Fire Department.

If the café is partially or totally on a City sidewalk or boulevard, the application will be forwarded to Municipal Works for review / approval under the Public Roads Bylaw. Municipal Works may contact you for additional information, if required.

If the proposed development is in the Downtown area, the drawings will also be circulated to the City Centre Development Agency (CCDA) for information purposes and to provide comments.

While waiting for Development / Public Roads Bylaw approval, you should ensure that all Alberta Health Services (AHS) and Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis Commission (AGLC) requirements are met, if applicable.

Approvals for outdoor cafés are granted on a temporary basis, typically from the end of May to the end of September. Be sure to re-apply before your approval lapses. Remember to read the conditions of approval for your Development Permit and/or Public Roads Bylaw approval.

If you have any questions about your approval please contact the department that issued the permit for clarification.