Event permits

Chinatown Parade

Events bring people together to have fun, to mark important events, or to work towards a higher purpose.

The focus of event approvals is to make sure that events are safe, and don’t negatively affect the community. We want you to have a fun, safe, memorable event.

There are few absolute rules and each application is examined based on impacts to the community.

Let the City help

Vancouver has two Special Events Offices - one as part of the Park Board for events held in or around parks, and one as part of Engineering Services for all other events. If you want to hold your event partially in a park and partially outside of a park (even if it's just the street at the edge of the park), you will need to work with staff from both offices and complete the City's online application as well as the Park Board application form. 

The staff at the Special Event offices are available to answer questions about special event applications and the approval process. We know how long things take, what things you need to think about, who you need to talk to, and more. Let the experienced staff help you make your event the best that it can be.

We also want your event to be a positive experience for all, so we will work with you and with our partners to minimize any potentially negative elements.

Throwing a block party?

Find information on throwing a block party in your neighbourhood.

Process

Events outside of parks

Important note Do not advertise or promote your event until you get preliminary approval from the Special Event Office.

  1. Call us with the key details – what, when, where, and how many – and we’ll let you know if you need an approval. We’ll also let you know if you need permits related to your event, and we can help you work through that process.
  2. If you need to get an approval, gather all of the necessary information, complete the online application, and submit it as soon as possible. 
  3. The special events liaison will review the application and will contact you. The liaison will let you know if your event is approved, if more information is needed, or if the City’s partners need to review the event.  
  4. Wait for the reviews, if required, and provide any additional information needed. The more your event impacts the community and the more the special events office has to consult with other City departments and outside partners, the more time and information you will need and the more you need to work with special events staff. 

City departments that might be consulted include 

  • Park Board
  • Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services
  • Vancouver Police Department
  • Development Services
  • Engineering
  • Licences

Outside partners that might be consulted include:

  • BC Ambulance Service
  • TransLink and its affiliated companies
  • BC Liquor Control Board
  • Vancouver Coastal Health

Events in parks

Important note Do not advertise or promote your event until you get conditional approval from the Special Event Office.

  1. Complete the online application.
  2. Email a detailed site map and/or route map to parkevents@vancouver.ca.
  3. Wait for feedback from special events staff. Currently we need 4 months lead time for new special events. The more your event impacts the community, the more time the special events office requires to consult with stakeholders and staff.
  4. Special events staff review and evaluate applications against the following criteria:
    • Compatibility with the Park Board's mandate
    • Suitability of a site to accommodate the event
    • Feedback from stakeholders and staff
  5. Once you receive conditional approval, we'll need your:
  6. Have a great event!

Timelines

Events outside of parks

The length of time required for approval varies depending on the size and nature of the event. Smaller events (block parties, stationary rallies, awareness-raising events) may be approved in a matter of days while larger events (parades, fun runs) may require up to 2 months for route approval.

All new and/or significant events require City Council approval and will take 3 months or more.

Events in parks

Applications must be received at least 4 months prior to the event date. Late applications may not be processed or approved.

  • All fees and projected costs must be paid within 15 days of booking confirmation unless other arrangements have been agreed upon.
  • Sites are not reserved until payment has been received.

Event impacts

Event impacts are one of the key factors affecting whether your event gets approved, how long approval takes, how many other groups or departments must be consulted, and so on.

Event impacts include things like:

  • Food
  • Alcohol
  • Noise
  • Location, including
    • The areas around the event site
    • Whether the event is on streets, sidewalks, or other public property
    • Whether the event is on private property but has a public impact
    • Whether the event is on City property and park property
  • Event size (particularly when there will be traffic or transit congestion)
  • Multi-site or route events (like parades or runs)
  • Multi-day events
  • Activities that will take place at your event

In addition, events in parks are more likely to be approved for private or non-profit activities, rather than commercial activities.

 NOTES:

  • There are few absolute rules when reviewing event applications.  Events, or elements of events, will be approved or rejected largely because of the impact on the community.
  • Event impacts often require additional permits or approvals. See the Additional requirements tabs for more information.

Application fees

You are required to pay a non-refundable application fee to hold an event that will be held on:

  • City streets or sidewalks
  • Other public property
  • Private property with anticipated residential or business impacts
  • Parks

Permit fees and deposits

Depending on your event and the services you require, you may need a variety of permits.You may also need to pay a deposit before your event takes place.

Greening your event

Make your event more sustainable with our Green Events Planning Guide.

You are responsible for leaving the event area clean and litter-free. Tell us how you will manage waste at your event. Will you hire the City, a business, or do it yourself?

Important note Note: If you do not leave the area clean and litter-free, you will be charged for City services to clean the area.

Insurance

Events held on City property must have liability insurance.

Other permits or approvals

If you want to … You need to get approval from …
Have amplified (not acoustic) music Licences and Inspections (Property Use staff)
Have fireworks Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services
Have a tent or a stage Development Services
Have temporary power Licences and Inspections (Electrical inspectors)
Have an event on a beach Park Board
Have traffic control Vancouver Police Department Emergency & Operations Planning Section (EOPS)
Have security Vancouver Police Department Emergency & Operations Planning Section (EOPS)
Sell food Vancouver Coastal Health
Sell or serve liquor Vancouver Police Department AND the Licences branch of Community Services
Sell items other than food or liquor Street Administration branch of Engineering Services

Neighbourhood notification

You, as the event organizer, are responsible for make sure that residents and/or businesses affected by the special event are made aware of it.

You need to let people know about:

  • When the event is taking place (dates and times)
  • Where the event is taking place
  • Any temporary traffic disruptions
  • Any temporary parking restrictions
  • Anticipated noise
  • Anticipated attendance
  • Anticipated events / amenities / attractions

You can let people know through a flyer or information leaflet distributed along the route or in the area. If you are organizing a large event, the Special Events Office may require you to advertise in local newspapers.

Location / route check

Before the event

If an event is occurring on a City street, the organizer should check the route about 1 week prior to the event. This may include driving or walking the route to identify any road defects or conflicts with street construction crews that may interfere.

Road defects may need to be corrected by the Engineering Department (at organizer's expense).

Another site check should be done just before the start of the event to determine that the route or location is safe.

During the event

An organizer must have the ability to shut down an event in the case of an emergency. Large events with long routes require a communications network (radio or cell phone) and First Aid must be provided for participants. If an unrelated emergency develops, the officers assigned to the event may be required to leave suddenly.

Marshals / Ambassadors

Only Vancouver Police are authorized to control traffic in the City of Vancouver. It is illegal for event marshals to stop or redirect a vehicle. However, event marshals are essential for assisting participants and pedestrians along the route of an event. An event ambassador is required to check the route for stragglers and to advise the Police when the road is clear of participants.

Large events

If you are planning a large event, be sure to also see the section Information relevant for large events about additional considerations you will need to consider in your planning.

Events outside of parks

  • You are responsible for ensuring that: 
    • The permitted area is appropriate for the activity
    • The activity is conducted in a safe, orderly manner
    • The activity is restricted to the permitted area
    • The event activities do not interfere with other users
  • Any property damage which occurs during the permitted event, set-up or take-down, is the responsibility of the licensee. Damage to City property should be reported immediately. It will be assessed and repair costs billed to the licensee. 
  • You are responsible for leaving the area clean and litter-free and may be billed for any subsequent cost incurred by the board for clean-up. 
  • The City of Vancouver reserves the right to cancel an event or activity for any reason and shall not be responsible for any associated costs or damages.

Events in parks

  • All permitted groups must use sports field whiting (non-toxic) when marking Vancouver park board fields or parks. 
  • Barbecues may be used provided they are 76 cm (30 in) from the ground, but not above, or on asphalt, concrete or picnic tables. Coals are to be taken off-site. 
  • Only paper or plastic cups may be used for beverages. For safety reasons, no glass containers are permitted. 

Limitations

All of the following are prohibited in parks, unless your permit specifically allows them:

  • The sale of goods
  • The collection of an admission fee
  • The operation of a concession
  • The operation of a public address system
  • The operation of amplified music 
  • The dispensing, sale / purchase, or consumption of alcohol any time (per Sections 42 and 43 of the Liquor Control and Licensing Act.) 
  • The installation of electricity 
  • The use of fire or fireworks
  • The erection of
    • Structures
    • Fences
    • Poles
    • Tents
    • Stages
    • Bleachers
    • Portable toilets
  • Signage, banners or advertisements
  • Vehicles being driven onto grassed areas, restricted access, or service roads at any time. Non-permitted vehicles may be towed.
  • Service of food is subject to bylaw requirements of the city health department.

Park users must carry the permit and present it upon request. Permits will be revoked without payment of any compensation in the event of a breach of any laws, by-laws, or conditions set up herein or in force. Non-compliance may also result in additional charges.

If your application is approved, you will have to provide the following information (if applicable to your event) 1 to 2 months prior to your event:

  • List of event sponsors and promotional banners for your event 
  • Press package or promotional material for your event - event organizers are asked to find an appropriate spot for the Park Board logo alongside the event's other corporate partners.

Find more information about applying for event permits

Additional event information by topic

Get additional information for planning events in Vancouver; fees and grants, serving food or alcohol, selling merchandise, charitable and non-profit events, greening your event, and special considerations for specific locations

Additional event information by type

Find additional information for planning an event in Vancouver; terms and definitions, contacts and resources, forms and documents

Information relevant for large events

Find out what you need to do when planning a large event; neighbourhood impact plans, safety and security plans, and traffic and transportation plans

Block party table with food and water

Block parties

Find information on throwing block parties in Vancouver.

Ready to apply for your special event?

Ready to apply? If you are ready to apply for your special event permit, click the link below to go directly to the online application.

Apply for events

Is your event in a park? If your event is in a park, you will also need to fill out the Park Board's application.

Apply for events in parks

Learn about insurance requirements

Insurance requirements for filming, event, and facility use

The City requires that you carry liability insurance for events or activities that you hold on City and Park Board Property, or in any City or Park Board facility. Learn about the requirements.

Contact the Special Events Office

Location
Film & Special Events Office
126 Keefer St
Vancouver, BC V5Y 1V4

Phone: 604-257-8850

Fax: 604-257-8859

specialevents@vancouver.ca

Contact the Park Board Special Events Office

Location
Special Events &
Filming Office
2099 Beach Ave
Vancouver, BC V6G 1Z4

Phone: 604-257-8516 

Fax: 604-257-8501

parkevents@vancouver.ca

Insurance requirements for filming, event, and facility useBlock partiesInformation relevant for large eventsAdditional event information by typeAdditional event information by topic