Event planning resources

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Event Central Office

The Event Central Office is the first point of contact for organizers of large outdoor events and film productions and administers the Special Events on Public and Private Property By-law and the Film By-law .

Event Central staff lead integrated event and film planning in a supportive environment, reconcile the input of all impacted stakeholders, and ensure organizers and City services are coordinated in a manner that contributes positively to special events and film and their safe execution.

Contact us

No matter the size of your event, Event Central is available to help you in figuring out what permits and approvals may be needed.

Event Central Office
613-580-2424 extension 14613

Event Guide

Event Central’s Event Guide includes special event permit requirements, best practices, and templates.

  • Online application portal guide
  • Diversity and Inclusion best practices
  • Municipal Alcohol Policy guidelines
  • Alcohol Management Plan template
  • Checklist for patio extensions
  • Updated drone usage guidelines
  • Updated health, safety, and wellness resources

Emergency planning for special events

Public safety is an important element of special event planning. It is good practice for organizers of events of all sizes and complexity to plan for mitigating and managing risks associated with their event (preventing emergencies as well as being prepared for them). All applicants for a Special Event Permit must submit an emergency plan at the time of application.

A Special Event Permit is required for outdoor events on public or private property when the expected attendance is 500 or more persons at any one time per the Special Events on Public and Private Property By-law (No. 2013-232)

Emergency Planning Guide

Emergency Planning: A Guide for Event Organizers is a comprehensive guide created to help event organizers in understanding their responsibilities, assessing risks and hazards at events, best practices, and completing the online emergency plan tool.

Emergency plan online tool

The online emergency plan tool is available to organizers applying for a special event permit through the My ServiceOttawa special events portal. The tool asks a series of questions and inputs responses into a template that can be downloaded and printed by organizers for use during actual event operations.

Emergency planning training options

The Province of Ontario offers IMS 100 - Introduction to Incident Management System as a self-guided free course through the Emergency Management Training Portal. The course is designed to teach the basic functions, concepts, and principles of the Incident Management System (IMS). At the end of the course, participants will be aware of the major functions within IMS and be able to assume limited roles within an incident management team for simple incidents. The system can be used for planned events when an emergency response is needed to protect life, property, and/or the environment.

Guide to serving alcohol at your event

The Guide to Serving Alcohol at your Event provides information and tips to help you run a safe event.

The event hosts shall ensure that there is:

  • No intoxication
  • No disorderly conduct
  • No promotion of immoderate consumption
  • No serving to patrons less than 19 years of age

Party Safer messaging and naloxone training

Event organizers are encouraged to include Party Safer planning and messaging about substance use, violence prevention, and promotion of mental health as they plan and host their event. Information on Party Safer tips and strategies are available through Ottawa Public Health (OPH) websites:

Examples of Party Safer planning include:

  • Reach out to OPH through the event review process to discuss availability of training (i.e., how to ID an OD, naloxone, violence prevention, mental health) for organizers, their staff, and volunteers. Ensure that staff and volunteers are aware of the opportunity to attend these no-cost virtual trainings sessions and where they can access no cost naloxone kits.
  • Promote the OPH websites as well as Party Safer messaging through social media channels prior to and during the event
  • Post visuals (i.e., Stop Overdose Ottawa posters) in high traffic areas at the event. Visit the OPH website print resources for downloadable posters (i.e., Anything Can be Cut with Fentanyl or Carfentanil)

The following event policies can decrease the risk of overdose and other drug related harms:

  • Intoxication policies and procedures (ID check, Smart Serve training)
  • Availability of low-cost non-alcoholic drinks
  • Access to first aid, security, and volunteer presence
  • Reduce risks through lighting, crowd control, and hazard mitigation
  • Position toilets and health facilities in accessible and well-lit areas
  • Provide free water
  • Signage in high traffic areas (i.e., entrances, toilets, etc.)
  • Adding QR codes to mental health and substance use resources on tickets and/or entry bracelets

Smoke and vape-free event signage

Free smoke and vape-free event signage for organizers via an online request form is available from Ottawa Public Health.

Two types of signs available:

  • Events on City-owned property
  • Events on Federally-owned or private property

Accessibility at special events

The City of Ottawa encourages all event organizers to make their events as accessible as possible so that everyone can participate fully. Refer to the Event Guide for a list of industry best practices.

Accessibility resources

Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act – Making Outdoor Events Accessible

Province of Ontario – How to Make Customer Service Accessible

Province of Ontario – How to Make Information Accessible

Province of Ontario – Planning Accessible Events (PDF 2MB)

Province of Ontario – Guide to Accessible Festivals & Outdoor Events

Ontario Municipal Social Services Association – Guide to Accessible Public Engagement (PDF 5MB)

Diversity and inclusion at special events

People from a diversity of ancestries, abilities, ages, countries of origin, cultures, genders, incomes, languages, races, and sexual orientations make this a vibrant city and contribute to creating a city for everyone. Refer to the Event Guide for a list of industry best practices.

Diversity and Inclusion Resources

Equity and Inclusion Lens Handbook – City of Ottawa

Diversity Snapshots (quick reference documents on people who are at risk of exclusion) – City of Ottawa

Indigenous Relations webpage – City of Ottawa

Equity and Inclusion in the Arts Fund (EIAF) – City of Ottawa

Case Study: How to Promote Diversity at an Event by Diversifying the Photographers Covering It – RBC Bluesfest