We want to make High River a desirable place to live, work and enjoy – a place that portrays a healthy economy and a vibrant community that welcomes and attracts new residents, businesses and visitors. It also doesn’t hurt to be a community that’s aesthetically pleasing too!

For these reasons, we place importance on ensuring commercial and business signage (including condo boards and community groups) within our community achieves high quality standards and are in line with the updated signage regulations found within our Land Use Bylaw. Together, everyone can create the vibrant and healthy community that we all envision.

There are many factors that come into play when considering obtaining a development permit for signage. These factors include zoning, regulations and the type of business/organization. To learn more, visit highriver.ca/development-permits.

Not all signage requires a development permit from the Town before being placed in the community. Such signage as A-board signs, real estate signs (with a maximum sign area of 1 sq. m), construction signs and garage sale signs (posted for a maximum of 48 hours) can be placed around the community without a development permit.

There are nine different types of acceptable signage that can be placed around the community, with a development permit:

  1. canopy;
  2. changeable message;
  3. community identification;
  4. developer directional;
  5. electronic message;
  6. fascia;
  7. freestanding;
  8. projecting or hanging wall, and;
  9. window signage.

All of these acceptable signage types can be illuminated from the top of the sign and oriented downward. Preventing light from shining from the top of the sign and/or the sign support structure help keep our night skies clear and visible. To learn more about specific regulations for each district, review the Land Use Bylaw. The Town has four different land use districts that allow signs, and each district has slightly different regulations for signage. Use our interactive map for more information about each district.

Inflatable signs, searchlight or laser signs, third party signs, vehicle or trailer on non-motorized vehicles signs, portable signs (not including A-board signs), roof signs, obsolete signs, moving, flashing, sound-emitting, or revolving signs are prohibited around the community, and do not align or comply with the updated signage regulations.

In addition to this, signage is not permitted on any streetlight poles around the community. These are property of FortisAlberta and placing signage on the poles is deemed as a safety hazard. If you would like more information about this, please contact FortisAlberta directly.

Development permits

Development permits are obtained through an application process. The information gathered during the application process helps us determine if the signage is in line with Council’s vision for creating a vibrant and aesthetically pleasing community, as well as ensures consistency in the look and feel of signage across the community and across all land use districts.

There are two guiding principles we use to evaluate the suitability of signage within the community:

A Pedestrian as the Universal Measure of Design

The Town of High River is to be designed based on a scale that is comfortable to people, encourages walking, accommodates a variety of functions, can change and adapt over time, and that will foster an environment that supports and reinforces the social aspects of the Town.

Stewardship through Sustainable Design

The Town, the community, and the development industry act as stewards for the High River of tomorrow. All development shall focus on long term quality over short term gains.

Based on these two principles, we also apply the following general criteria to help determine if the proposed signage is suitable within the community:

  • Signs should be appropriate and integrated with the building design and character of the neighbourhood.
  • Signs shall be primarily oriented toward pedestrians in both scale and location. Signs oriented towards vehicles are considered secondary.
  • Signs shall not obstruct pedestrian or vehicular visibility or circulation.
  • Signs shall not project above the roof line of a building.
  • The message on the sign shall relate to the use of the site(s) on which it is located.
  • A sign shall not exceed 20 per cent of the building façade to which it is attached.
  • Sign illumination shall be from the top of the sign and oriented downward and shall be designed to have no direct light emitted above the top of the sign and / or the signs support structure.
  • The vertical clearance from the bottom of a sign to grade for a public space shall be:
    • Minimum 2.5 m for sidewalks;
    • Minimum 3.8 m for driveways, parking spaces and streets; and
    • Minimum 4.6 m for loading areas.

To begin the application process, a pre-application meeting with the Planning and Development division is required to discuss the applicant’s signage needs, including the design and intended placement. Please email planning@highriver.ca or call 403-652-2110 to arrange a pre-application meeting.

Once a pre-application meeting has been arranged, applicants must completed a Signage Application Form and submit the application form, along with all the required information, to the Planning and Development Division via email at planning@highriver.ca.

Please note, we do not accept applications that are incomplete, missing required information or do not comply with our Land Use Bylaw. If any part of the application has incomplete or missing information, or requires revisions, our Planning and Development division will contact the applicant listed on the application form. The applicant may be required to apply for a variance at a cost of $175 (as per the Rate Bylaw) if the application does not comply with the Land Use Bylaw.

If application is being made for a Permitted Use or Discretionary Use development permit, a fee of $200 is charged for the first sign and $55 for each sign thereafter within the same application.

If the application is being made for a Home Occupation development permit, there is a $55 fee per sign.

There is no fee to schedule a pre-application meeting.

It takes approximately two (2) weeks from the start of the application process for our Planning and Development division to issue a development permit for commercial signage.

Every application is circulated internally for review and comments. By doing this, we ensure that nothing critical is missed in the application and it is in alignment with our Land Use Bylaw regulations as well as the policies in the Town Plan, and in any other applicable policy documents.

If the signage request is likely to have a significant impact on the area, we will also circulate the application to appropriate external agencies, such as Alberta Transportation, for their review and comments.

For a Discretionary Use development permit however, it takes an additional three (3) weeks to issue a development permit to allow for an appeal period. Members of the public have the opportunity to appeal a decision on a discretionary use development permit. There is no opportunity for public appeal on a permitted use development permit.

Please note, this additional time frame can also apply to a permit that requires a variance.

Through every step of the application process, we will keep you informed on the status of your application. You can also visit our active developments map to view the status of your application at a high level. The map is updated every week and shows all the current applications being processed by the Planning and Development division.

Once the review process is complete, the applicant will be contacted by our Planning and Development division via a written letter. The letter will detail the comments provided through the review process and any revisions required.

If revisions are required, the applicant will need to resubmit the required information in the same size and format as submitted in the original application. Please note, the application for a development permit will not be approved until all the required information is provided and accepted by the Planning and Development division.

At any time during the revision process, the applicant can contact the Planning and Development division to discuss or receive clarification on the comments and/or revisions received.

If there are aspects of your proposal that do not comply with the Town’s regulations/policies, staff will go through options with you. Options could include applying for a variance or applying to amend the applicable policy document

After the review process has been completed, the Planning and Development division will issue their decision on the application through a “Notice of Decision.” The Notice of Decision will outline any conditions of the approval, where necessary, or refusal of the application, with reasons.

We are obligated, under the Municipal Government Act (MGA), to notify members of the public when a Notice of Decision is issued for a discretionary use development permit.

On the day that a Notice of Decision is issued, a public notice will be placed at the intended location of the signage to make members of the public aware of the application, including that it has been approved by the Town and any conditions. Public notices are also posted on our active development map. The notice will be posted for 21 days.

Applicants have the opportunity to file an appeal within 21 days of the date that the Notice of Decision was issued. Please submit a completed appeal form to our Legislative Services division by email at legislativeservices@highriver.ca. There is a $300 fee (as per our Rate Bylaw) to file an appeal.

Members of the public have the opportunity to appeal a Notice of Decision, but only on a discretionary use development permit. A Notice of Appeal form must be completed and submitted to our Legislative Services division (legislativeservices@highriver.ca) within 21 days of the date that the Notice of Decision was issued. There is a $300 fee (as per our Rate Bylaw) to file an appeal.

A public hearing will take place 30 days after the appeal has been filed. All parties involved in the appeal will be notified in writing of the hearing date by our Legislative Services division five days prior to the date of the hearing.

If there are no public appeals on a discretionary use development permit, a development permit will be issued to the applicant.