Planning an Outdoor Special Event in Ottawa

The City of Ottawa enacted the Special Events on Public and Private Property By-law No. 2013-232 on July 17, 2013.

A "special event" under By-law No. 2013-232 means a fair or festival, or a social, recreational, educational, community or similar event that is occurring outdoors on any property that is not a city street / sidewalk and having an expected attendance of at least 500 persons at any one time during the event, and includes a Beach Event.

If your event has less than 500 people in attendance, please note that Event Central can still assist you with the coordination of City Services for your event.

Events taking place on a city street / sidewalk are subject to the conditions under By-law No. 2001-260. A “special event” under this By-law includes a demonstration, parade, sports event, festival, carnival, street dance, residential block party, sidewalk sale, outdoor mass and other like events;

Based on the size and complexity of your event sufficient notice is required to process your application. This ensures that all facets of your event are able to be addressed in order to deliver a safe and successful event.

When do you need to apply?

If your event has an expected attendance of at least 500 persons at any one time or is taking place on a city street/sidewalk

If you are planning a special event in Ottawa, you will need to complete and submit a special event application to the Event Central office prior to your event.

Application deadlines:

  1. 30 days in advance of the special event, if the special event,
    1. includes pyrotechnics or fireworks,
    2. includes the preparation, storage, handling, serving or sale of food or beverages,
    3. includes one or more vendors of any type,
    4. includes or uses one or more vehicles,
    5. uses City property, or
    6. includes open air fires
  2. 60 days in advance of the special event, if the special event,
    1. uses property owned or leased by the Provincial or Federal government,
    2. requires a noise exemption pursuant to the City's Noise By-law,
    3. uses or includes aircraft, watercraft, or helicopters, or,
    4. includes or uses temporary structures or equipment, such as tents larger than 60 m² or 645ft²;
  3. 90 days in advance of the special event, if the special event,
    1. requires a special occasion permit or a temporary extension to an existing license issued by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario relating to the sale or serving of alcohol,
    2. uses a highway other than a residential highway, or
    3. occurs on Victoria Day, Canada Day, Remembrance Day, or New Year's Eve; and,
  4. Should a special event not include any of the factors listed in paragraphs (1) to (3), the application deadline shall be 30 days.

Separate from the above, if you are applying for the following:

  • Block Party
  • Religious Procession
  • Demonstration/March

We ask that you complete pages 1 to 4 and page 9 of the application and submit it 30 days prior to your event.

Once you have completed the items above, please submit both documents to or by fax at 613-580-2719. 

Once your application documents have been received, a representative from Event Central will contact you to begin the Special Event Permit process.

What is Event Central?

Event Central:

  • assists in the coordination of all city services involved with special events.
  • acts as a first point of contact and one-stop shop for organizers of events in the nation's capital.
  • provides assistance in facilitating permit approvals and coordinating meetings with relevant City officials and other levels of government.
  • coordinates emergency preparedness for events, schedules events so that they do not conflict with similar ones, and communicates with internal and external stakeholders in advance regarding the event's possible impact.
  • works with the Special Events Advisory Team to ensure that special events in Ottawa are successful, safe, and contribute positively to the city and its residents.


  • Phone: 3-1-1
  • E-mail:  
  • FAX: 613-580-2719
  • Write to us: 101 Centrepointe Drive, Ottawa, ON, K2G 5K7

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