Review of special event by-laws

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Whether for celebration, recreation, or expression, special events bring us together.

Ottawa hosts a great variety of festivals, charity runs, and cultural and community events throughout the year.

As Canada’s capital and host to both the federal government and 128 diplomatic missions, we are also a place for political expression.

These activities are regulated through the Special Events on Private and Public Property By-law (No. 2013-232) and Special Events on City Streets By-law (No.2001-260). The City of Ottawa is currently reviewing these by-laws to ensure that they effectively support festival and event organizers, and ensure that all participants can have a safe, enjoyable experience.

During these reviews, the City will consider the unique nature of festivals and major events, community events and parades and demonstrations.

Key questions to be addressed in this review include:

  • Are application processes for special events permits efficient?
  • Do permit requirements and existing regulations effectively support the diverse array of special events hosted in the City?
  • Do regulations help ensure the safety and security of event patrons, staff, and volunteers?
  • Do regulations effectively manage community nuisance for neighbouring residents and businesses?
  • How can the City help organizers minimize the environmental footprint and reduce waste of their events?
  • How can the City foster equity, diversity, and inclusion with special event regulations?
  • Can regulations support continuing growth in the number of special events held annually?

Festivals and outdoor events with more than 500 people

City staff will be consulting with Ottawa Tourism, the Ottawa Festival Network, event organizers, suppliers, workers and the public to explore opportunities to improve application processes and permit requirements, review user fees, and otherwise improve support for these community building activities.

Economic and environmental sustainability will also be key considerations as part of these by-law reviews.

Outdoor events with less than 500 people

The current Special Events on Private and Public Property By-law (No. 2013-232) only applies to events with more than 500 participants. However, the Special Events on City Streets By-law (No.2001-260) applies to events of any size, if they use City rights-of-way (streets and sidewalks). Many community organizations have also come to rely on the City to support more than 500 smaller community events each year. This by-law review will consider if a permit should be required for certain smaller events, and what that system might look like.

Events on City Streets

The Special Events on City Streets By-law (No.2001-260) regulates parades, races, sidewalks sales, block parties , and other events that occur, in whole or in part, on City Rights-of-Way (streets and/or sidewalks). This by-law will be reviewed in concert with the review of the Special Events on Private and Public Property By-law (No. 2013-232) to enable staff from both departments to coordinate stakeholder and public engagement, research and other activities more efficiently and will further provide the opportunity to consider a comprehensive and integrated solution to managing large gatherings.

Stay informed

Register with the Stay Tuned feature to be notified about project updates and consultation opportunities.

Get engaged

If you represent an organization or business and would like to register as a stakeholder for this review, please email bylawreviews@ottawa.ca. Please note that by registering as a stakeholder, your name and contact information will be collected and used by City staff for the purposes of this by-law review project, including contacting you providing regular updates, in accordance with the Municipal Freedom of Information Act. Any questions regarding this collection of information can be addressed to Bylawreviews@ottawa.ca, or (613) 580-2424, ext. 29529.



Whether for celebration, recreation, or expression, special events bring us together.

Ottawa hosts a great variety of festivals, charity runs, and cultural and community events throughout the year.

As Canada’s capital and host to both the federal government and 128 diplomatic missions, we are also a place for political expression.

These activities are regulated through the Special Events on Private and Public Property By-law (No. 2013-232) and Special Events on City Streets By-law (No.2001-260). The City of Ottawa is currently reviewing these by-laws to ensure that they effectively support festival and event organizers, and ensure that all participants can have a safe, enjoyable experience.

During these reviews, the City will consider the unique nature of festivals and major events, community events and parades and demonstrations.

Key questions to be addressed in this review include:

  • Are application processes for special events permits efficient?
  • Do permit requirements and existing regulations effectively support the diverse array of special events hosted in the City?
  • Do regulations help ensure the safety and security of event patrons, staff, and volunteers?
  • Do regulations effectively manage community nuisance for neighbouring residents and businesses?
  • How can the City help organizers minimize the environmental footprint and reduce waste of their events?
  • How can the City foster equity, diversity, and inclusion with special event regulations?
  • Can regulations support continuing growth in the number of special events held annually?

Festivals and outdoor events with more than 500 people

City staff will be consulting with Ottawa Tourism, the Ottawa Festival Network, event organizers, suppliers, workers and the public to explore opportunities to improve application processes and permit requirements, review user fees, and otherwise improve support for these community building activities.

Economic and environmental sustainability will also be key considerations as part of these by-law reviews.

Outdoor events with less than 500 people

The current Special Events on Private and Public Property By-law (No. 2013-232) only applies to events with more than 500 participants. However, the Special Events on City Streets By-law (No.2001-260) applies to events of any size, if they use City rights-of-way (streets and sidewalks). Many community organizations have also come to rely on the City to support more than 500 smaller community events each year. This by-law review will consider if a permit should be required for certain smaller events, and what that system might look like.

Events on City Streets

The Special Events on City Streets By-law (No.2001-260) regulates parades, races, sidewalks sales, block parties , and other events that occur, in whole or in part, on City Rights-of-Way (streets and/or sidewalks). This by-law will be reviewed in concert with the review of the Special Events on Private and Public Property By-law (No. 2013-232) to enable staff from both departments to coordinate stakeholder and public engagement, research and other activities more efficiently and will further provide the opportunity to consider a comprehensive and integrated solution to managing large gatherings.

Stay informed

Register with the Stay Tuned feature to be notified about project updates and consultation opportunities.

Get engaged

If you represent an organization or business and would like to register as a stakeholder for this review, please email bylawreviews@ottawa.ca. Please note that by registering as a stakeholder, your name and contact information will be collected and used by City staff for the purposes of this by-law review project, including contacting you providing regular updates, in accordance with the Municipal Freedom of Information Act. Any questions regarding this collection of information can be addressed to Bylawreviews@ottawa.ca, or (613) 580-2424, ext. 29529.



  • Survey 2: Safe and Inclusive Events

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    The second survey concerning the Review of Special Event By-laws is now open.

    This survey asks questions about how to ensure special events are safe and inclusive. The survey covers a range of issues, including accessibility, harassment, sexual harassment, drugs and alcohol, smoking and vaping, and extreme weather events.

    Have your say before April 29, 2024.

  • Survey 1 has closed

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    Our first survey, with general questions about special event regulations, has now closed. Results from this survey will be reported on this site once we have reviewed your submissions. Please check back, or follow this project, to see the results when they become available.

  • Survey 1: How are we doing?

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    Please take a moment to share your opinions and insights about how special events are currently regulated in Ottawa.

    Future surveys will focus on specific issues, or possible options for changes to regulations and services. Follow this project ensure you don’t miss out on these additional consultation opportunities.

    With your input, together we can improve special event services and regulations to help grow our economy, enrich our culture, and protect our community and environment.

    This survey has now closed.

Page last updated: 16 Apr 2024, 04:16 PM