First of all: What is a Concrete Swale? 


Concrete Swales are a common sight in backyards across Alberta. These structures are an important part of the initial design of a subdivision and are put in place long before any houses have been built in a developing neighbourhood. 

Their design into an existing subdivision is a critical part of capturing water runoff and directing it to the appropriate streets. In Calgary, concrete swales are typically located at the back of a property and extend about 1.0m or more into a yard.


Concrete Swales & Compliance 

Calgary Compliance

Unbeknownst to most homeowners, if a concrete swale is located within your property, then there’s a good chance that a city right of way also exists on one or both sides of the swale within your property boundariesWithin city right of ways, there are rules concerning what can and cannot be placed within these areas.

Rights of ways surrounding concrete swales exist to give the city or municipality access to the concrete swale if repairs need to be made. 


Locating Right of Ways. 

When standing on a property it can be difficult to understand where a right of way starts and ends. That’s why it’s always best to consult the most recent, or updated copy of your RPR to find the location of a possible right of way. Your Real Property Report will always provide the location of the city right of way. It will also show objects that are encroaching into the right of way unless they were added after the RPR was originally completed. Find more information regarding concrete swales here: 

Placing structures such as sheds or retaining walls within a right of way is not allowed and will stop an RPR from receiving an immediate compliance stamp from the city. 

Read about city right of ways in a previous post here:


The most common encroachment that surrounds a concrete swale are: 

  • Small sheds 
  • Brick retaining walls 
  • Large garden beds 
  • Concrete patio stones used to cover the swale 


Land Use Bylaws 

 All city right of ways come with land-use restrictions. The same is true for any right of way surrounding a concrete swale. They are summed up as the following:  


  1. Any structures or objects that cover a concrete swale are not allowed. The City of Calgary will ask that these structures be removed immediately. They will not issue a compliance stamp until proof of removal has been provided. 


  1. Structures that are shown on a Real Property Report to be located within the right of way will be considered an encroachment into city property and will be subject to a consent letter. 


A letter of consent is an agreement between the property owner and the city. In Calgary, a letter of consent will cost you $50.00 and will take approximately 14 business days for the city to complete. The city will always give you the option of removing the object that is encroaching within the right of way. 

 If you choose to remove the object(s) that are encroaching, simply provide updated pictures of the area with the objects removed, as well as an updated RPR reflecting the amendments. The City can then move forward with a compliance stamp.   



 Enforcement of objects or structures located within the right of way surrounding or covering a concrete swale comes into play when the city reviews a Real Property Report that has been submitted for a compliance stamp.  The city will always let whoever applied for compliance know concerning any issues that might have come up during the review process, and how to address them. 

 If you have any questions or concerns regarding objects that are already located in a right of way, or if you’re not sure that your RPR will pass the compliance stage, then feel free to reach out. We have a team of experts that work with homeowners daily, helping them navigate their way through city and municipal bylaws.  


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