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Calgary Bylaws – Composting at Home

In an effort to assure that Calgary residents continue to be good neighbours, the city has adopted a comprehensive set of community standards. Included in the regulations are prohibitions against noise and common nuisances, as well as additional guidelines regulating stockpiling of building materials, fire bans and practices, graffiti, home car washing, composting practices, and many other topics.

With the rise and popularity of green living and gardening, many local residents have taken to composting to assure a lush landscape or a bountiful harvest of home-grown vegetables. Specific requirements for home composting are designed to assure that odours and pests do not become a problem.

Regulations pertaining to composting are found in Part 8 of the Calgary Community Standards Bylaw.

Calgary Composting Regulations

Both open compost piles and composting containers are allowed under city provisions, but they must be maintained by the homeowner or resident in specific ways that assure they do not become a nuisance to neighbours.

  • Open composting piles may not be situated within ten (10) metres of an adjacent home, measured from the nearest points of each.
  • No dog or cat feces, animal parts or animal meat may be placed in a composting container or on an open composting pit.
  • Fines levied for violations of these requirements vary from $50 to $100.

Reporting an Infraction

Any citizen may file a complaint or report a Bylaw infraction by calling 311 from within Calgary, or by calling 403-268-CITY (2489) from outside the city. The caller must supply name and address, both a primary phone or contact number and an alternate, a brief description of the offence that triggered the complaint, and the address and specific location of the property being reported.

As an alternative, reports may be filed through 311 Online Services. The information supplied will be confidential, but no anonymous complaints will be accepted. Every report is assigned a case number, and each report will be investigated. Complaints are handled on a priority basis, with issues that have serious public safety implications investigated first. Several days might be required to schedule a property visit for complaints of a routine nature.

City officials ask citizens to keep notes of complaints; if a problem exists that affects several adjacent owners or an entire neighbourhood, it is wise to coordinate with others. In cases of widespread non-compliance, additional information will help assure effective corrective action.

Enforcement Procedures

Although specific enforcement is dependent on the type of infraction, authorities in general will issue a property owner an order which allows 14 days to remedy the problem. Typically, at the expiration of that time period, a peace officer will inspect the property.

If the problem has not been solved during the remediation period, the city may issue a Notice of Corrective Action. A city crew or private contractor can be authorized to perform any necessary work to assure compliance with the community guidelines, and the property owner will be billed for the work. The guidelines are designed to protect Calgary citizens and homeowners and they pertain not only to residential neighbourhoods, but also to the downtown area and local businesses.

It pays to be aware of the requirements. Infractions carry penalties, most often in the form of fines for each violation, ranging from $50 to $500 for a first offence. In case of a second citation within a 24-month period, the fine is typically doubled. Imprisonment is a possibility in some cases. Procedures also exist for appealing an invoice for a bylaw infraction through the 311 Online system.