Event planning guidelines
This section was created to assist with general event planning and to guide event organizers through the City's Outdoor Event Permit application process. Important City and other stakeholder requirements are provided to ensure proper permits are in place for the delivery of a safe and successful event.
Prior to completing and submitting an event application, please review these A-to-Z guidelines to ensure that your event complies with the City of Kelowna's event policies, procedures and regulations.
Please contact the Events Team at firstname.lastname@example.org or 250-469-8423 if you have any questions.
The City of Kelowna promotes a caring, inclusive and respectful community where city programs, services and facilities are available to everyone, including people with disabilities.
A person with a disability can be defined as someone who:
- Has low or no hearing
- Has low or no vision
- Lives with a mental illness
- Uses a cane, wheelchair or other mobility device to get around
Event organizers can promote inclusivity by taking steps to ensure their events are accessible to everyone.
Things to consider when planning:
- Washrooms: Ensure accessible washroom stalls/portable washrooms are available, appropriately placed and in adequate supply
- Parking: Ensure there are accessible parking stalls located in close proximity to event site, and create temporary stalls where event space may restrict available accessible parking. The City of Kelowna has temporary accessible parking signs available in the City Event Equipment
- Paths of Travel: Identify clear and wide travel paths through the event site, and ensure tripping hazards are identified and covered properly
- Routes: Ensure event routes are accessible and clear of any impediments
- Signage: provide large, easy to read signage with good colour contrast
Amplified sound may be approved as part of the Outdoor Event Permit.
Organizers are required to mitigate noise bleed by:
- Having awareness of speaker location and direction (ie. face away from resident areas)
- Respecting early morning or late evening use
Specific decibel settings for large concerts will be determined as part of the Event Permit process.
Event Services has a portable sound system and speakers available for city permitted events. It is available on a first come-first served basis. Request can be made through the Outdoor Event Permit process.
A Special Event Business License is required for any person, persons, group, society, association, organization, or corporation holding a Special Event for gain or profit including but not restricted to a public show, exhibition or commercial performance. A license is required for any sales onsite at the event.
For more information on licensing, please contact 250-469-8617 or email@example.com
To APPLY for a license, please contact 250-469-8960 or firstname.lastname@example.org
In support of tournaments and events, camping may be permitted in designated parks only: Parkinson Recreation Park, Mission Recreation Park, and Rutland Recreation Park. Details are reviewed through the Outdoor Event Permit process and prior approval is required from the Events Team. Terms and conditions may vary between events and locations
The City of Kelowna has a variety of equipment available for rent or at no charge for permitted events on city property. Our Equipment Booking Form has a full breakdown of inventory and booking information. Equipment requests are made through the Outdoor Event Permit process.
Equipment Available at No Charge
Note this is not a complete listing (full inventory is in the Equipment Booking Form); examples include:
- Slow Paddles
- Cable covers (for cords)
- Detour signs
Equipment Available for Rent
- Portable Sound System
- City Hex Tent - 40x40 foot tent. For general information, please visit the Infrastructure Section
- Transportable Bleachers
- 40'L x 15'W plus 5 feet for tongue
- 9 rows of seating
- Seating for approximately 180 people
Equipment is available on a first come-first served basis, however when multiple events are booking on the same weekend, we do make every effort to ensure shared use of the equipment.
Lost or damaged equipment is deducted from the damage deposit on the Outdoor Event Permit.
For some events, organizers will be required to notify local residents, businesses, and/or the general public of impacts to the area, via a notification letter. Notification is required one month in advance.
As a general guideline, a notification letter is required if your event:
- Has a lane or road closure
- Has amplified sound (ie. concert)
- Has a large parking impact in residential area
- Has an extended park closure
Necessity of a notification letter will be determined by the Events Team and a copy will be required as part of the Outdoor Event Permit.
Notification letter should include:
- Event dates and times
- Event location
- Route maps, indicating closures, detour routes, etc.
- Restricted parking areas
- Contact information including email and phone
- Website information
- Other as applicable
Canada Post has a program that will assist in targeting a direct mail out with interactive maps and data to send information to a targeted area.
In addition the City will release a Traffic Advisory or Park Closure Announcement approximately one week ahead of the event to assist in informing the public.
As per the Parks and Public Spaces Bylaw No. 1068, Section 3.42; no person shall release or land a hot air balloon or passenger balloon, or operate and unmanned aircraft, drone, or a model aircraft in a Park without a permit.
Drone usage can be approved as part of the Outdoor Event Permit with the following requirements:
- Valid Kelowna Business License; Recreational operators are not permitted
- Comprehensive General Liability insurance no less than $2 Million
- Site survey as submitted to NAV and corresponding event site map if applicable
- Copy of Special Flight Operations Certificate (SFOC) from Transport Canada
- It is illegal to drive drones over any public spaces
- Drone takeoff and landing must be in a secured 200 ft. radius and always 100 ft. away from vehicles, buildings and people. This is indicated on the site survey map
Please contact the Events Team at email@example.com for a Drone Application.
The City of Kelowna provides electrical access in many of its event parks at no cost to event organizers. Availability and amount varies per park. To supplement electrical onsite, generators may be permitted under the guidelines outlined below; subject to City approval.
It is important for organizers to determine the total electrical requirements for their event; this includes amount required to access electrical (plug into) onsite as well as the number and size of generators onsite at your event, to determine both grounding and electrical permit requirements.
TIP: When creating your site map, ensure any activities or food vendors requiring electrical access or grounding for generators are placed near these services in the park. The Events Team can provide service locations in the various parks.
Generators and Grounding
Generally speaking, most generators are required to be grounded. Technical Safety BC will state to ground generators as per the Manufacturer's instructions, however, staking, which is the most common instruction for grounding, is NOT permitted in city parks. Other grounding options need to be sourced and may include:
- Self grounding generators
- Grounding plate(s) - several parks have grounding plates which can be identified through the Events Team
- Alternative grounding options - as facilitated by the Events Team. Organizers are not permitted to ground to infrastructure in the park without prior approval
An Electrical Permit is required when the onsite supply requirement is greater than 250kVA or the equipment (ie. generators) installed for temporary use AND the supply is greater than 5kVA.
We highly recommend visiting Technical Safety BC for more information, and to apply for a permit.
Safety is a key component to a successful event. Depending on the size and scope of the event, different levels of emergency planning is required. This includes situations such as medical, fire, weather, lost child, etc. The event organizer is responisble for adequately considering, planning for and mitigating against event emergencies.
When requested, event organizers are required to submit and Emergency Plan to the City of Kelowna for review and approval as part of the Outdoor Event Permit.
When considering the scope of an Emergency Plan, it is important to evaluate the level of risk, including variables such as:
- Level of attendance
- Liquor Service
- Type of activities at event
- Demographic of attendees
- Duration of event
When creating an Emergency Plan, it is important to take into account:
- Access - primary, secondary and emergency access points and routes shuold be designated and clearly maked on the site map
- Route should avoid any temporary or permanent gated access points (unless manned)
- Where feasible, route should have easy access from a main street and be set away from the main flow of event attendees (pedestrians or vehicles)
- Action/Communication Plan
- Summary of first aid responders
- Location of first aid resources
BC Health Services (BCEHS) is an important resource for medical planning for events. You can visit BCEHS Special Operations for more information on considerations when planning first aid and levels of service that may be required.
Other planning resources:
The use of fireworks, pyrotechnics, and/or open flame performances require pre-approval from the Events Team before applying for a Fireworks Permit. Request can be indicated in the Outdoor Event Permit Application.
Please visit the Fire and Life Safety Bylaw, section 17.2 online, or call the Kelowna Fire Department at 250-469-8755 for general inquiries.
The Fireworks Permit, including additional insurance and site maps are required as part of the Outdoor Event Permit.
First Aid is the responsibility of the organizer.
At minimum, all event are required to have a fully stocked fist aid kit easily accessible by event staff, volunteers and attendees.
For events with over 500 attendees, first aid recommendations include:
- Clearly identifiable 10x10 first aid tent onsite
- Certified professional first aid service such as St. John Ambulance or other
For larger or higher risk events, increased medical services and an Emergency Plan will be required. Please visit the Emergency Plan section for more information on determining medical coverage requirements and emergency planning tips.
Several event parks have contracted concessions or mobile food vendors onsite to serve the general public. For events in these locations, the Events Team will provide contact information and facilitate coordination with onsite concession operators.
For smaller events, organizers are asked to coordinate food service with onsite concession operators and/or onsite mobile food vendors to provide food service.
For larger events, additional food vendors or food service is permitted in conjunction with onsite food service. Any additional food vendors brought onsite should provide fare that varies from onsite concession and onsite mobile food vendors.
Mobile Food Vendors
Mobile food vendors for events are required to have the proper permits in place to serve the general public. Please ensure your mobile food vendor has the following:
- A Kelowna Fire Department annual inspection decal. Contact 250-469-8755 for more information
- Interior Health Authority Permit
General Food Service
For food service not being provided by a mobile food vendor, it is the organizer's responsibility to ensure the appropriate Interior Health Authority Temporary Food Service Permit is in place. If required, a copy of the food service permit must be included as part of the Outdoor Event Permit.
Portable BBQ's are approved as part of the Outdoor Event Permit, provided taht the BBQ is: CSA/ULC approved, powered by propane gas, used under constant supervision, and kept a minimum of 1 metre away from the nearest structure, property line, tree or other combustible material. A gas powered campfire or open flame is not permitted.
Drop clothes are required for all food service areas and vehicles on hard surfaces. Drop clothes must cover vehicles and cooking trailers from bumper to bumper.
It is important to be aware of all requirements in city parks for setup/takedown and load in/out of infrastructure in the park. Conditions to be coordinated and managed through the Event Services Office may include:
- Many city parks have specific access and egress points for loading in/out of event infrastructure
- Vehicles are to remain on a hard surface wherever feasible
- Locates may be required depending on site setup and needs. This would be the organizers cost and coordinated through the Event Services Office
- Protective methods will be required to prevent damage (ie. plywood pathway for vehicles travelling over turf, tarping under vehicles and food service areas)
- Infrastructure may be permitted overnight in the park, with security requirements determined based on risk
Below are specific conditions for common event infrastructure. Other possible infrastructure onsite can include; staging, storage bins, reefers, etc. and specifc conditions may apply. Please advise the Events Team of all infrastructure being brought onsite and indicate on all site maps.
Things to consider:
- Event fencing is not permitted to block access to resident’s property, driveways, parking lots, thoroughfares without approval as part of the event permit
- Any fencing blocking entrances/exits to city property must have a gate to allow access and be manned by a marshal or security person at all times
- Staking into the ground or affixing fencing to any park infrastructure is not permitted without prior approval
- It is the organizers responsibility to ensure contracted company is compliant with all city conditions and regulations
Things to consider:
- All inflatables to be anchored securely using weights
- Inflatables must be staffed at all times
- Inflatables must be deflated daily for multiple day events
- All straps and electrical cords shall be positioned so as not to cause trip hazards
- Generator must be properly grounded if required
Portable Washrooms and Dumpsters
Things to consider:
- Portable Washrooms - location should be easily accessible for servicing, and where feasible, placed on a hard surface
- Dumpsters - location should be away from the main event area, easily accessible for servicing, and where feasible, placed on a hard surface
- Coordination of portable washrooms and dumpsters to be dropped off and picked up outside of event time can be approved dependent on need
The City must be notified of all tents planned within an event site.
- All tents must be indicated on the site map with sizing
- Staking is not permitted in city parks. All tents must be appropriately weighted.It is not permitted to tie to any infrastructure. Exceptions to the no staking rule may be approved as part of the Outdoor Event Permit. If approved, locates for utilities, irrigation and other lines are required at the organizers cost
- Tents are not permitted within 3m of any building or permanent structures
- All tents shall have a flame retardant treatment
- Smoking and open flame devices shall not be permitted in a tent
- Heaters are permitted in tents providing they comply with Technical Safety BC requirements, applicable gas codes and the appliance manufacturers clearance requirements
Many onsite activities have additional insurance requirements or specific guidelines which require City of Kelowna approval prior to being onsite. The most common activities include, but are not restricted to, amusement rides, petting zoos, inflatables and drone operators.
All contractors/vendors for these activities must provide proof of Commercial General Liability (CGL) insurance policy via a certificate of insurance with a limit of not less than $2 million (or otherwise deemed by the City of Kelowna) naming “The City of Kelowna, 1800 Parkinson Way, Kelowna BC V1Y 4P9” as an Additional Insured.
All certificates of insurance are also required to indicate the following:
- The name, address and telephone number of the Named Insured;
- The name, address and telephone number of the insurance broker;
- Certificate needs to have the brokers name, title, Company name, broker signature of Authorized Signatory, and date signed.
- A description of the location and event to which this certificate applies;
- Details of the insurance company writing the policy: name, address and telephone number;
- Insurance Policy Number;
- Policy effective date and expiry date;
- Policy limits;
- Participant Injury;
- Description of coverage detailing Commercial General Liability;
- Details related to automobile liability insurance;
- Insurance company writing the policy: name, address and telephone number;Insurance Policy Number;
- Policy effective date and expiry date;
- Policy limits;
- Any Deductible or Reimbursement Clause contained in the policy shall not apply to the City of Kelowna and shall be the sole responsibility of the Insured named above;
- 30 days prior written notice of material change and/or cancellation will be given to the City of Kelowna
Insurance documents to be submitted as part of the Outdoor Event Permit.
It is recommended organizers provide nearby parking options when attendance will exceed onsite capacities. Alternate means of transportation such as walking, cycling, carpooling, transit, etc. should be encouraged.
As part of the Outdoor Event Permit, organizers may be permitted to block off parking stalls and/or parking lots for event space or infrastructure such as portable washrooms, mobile food vendors, loading/unloading zone, etc.
It is the organizers responsibility to block off and manage use of stalls and/or parking lots. The Events Team may provide meter bags where feasible and organizers can book City Event Equipment to reserve the area.
If onsite accessible parking stalls are blocked off as event space, it is the organizers responsibility to add additional temporary accessible stalls in an alternate location. Accessible parking signs are available in City Event Equipment.
Parking on grass, or in pathways, driving lanes, fire routes, designated accessible spaces, etc. is not permitted without prior City of Kelowna permission.
It is not permitted to charge parking fees on city property to event attendees.
A courtesy tow is identified as the “towing of a legally parked vehicle, at no charge to the vehicle owner, for the purpose of clearing an area for events, film, construction, etc.” The City of Kelowna may grant permission for courtesy tows as part of the Outdoor Event Permit.
Vehicles can be towed to a neighbouring street, or a designated tow lot identified through the permit process.
It is the organizer’s responsibility to make arrangements with the towing company; this includes coordination of details, locations, RCMP notification, and any associated costs for service.
For larger events, a Parking Plan may be required and should include:
- Onsite Parking Management - control of access points and directing vehicles
- Identification of Park and Walk locations
- Shuttle Plan - designated drop off/pickup zones and schedule of service
Route maps are required by events using City roadways, sidewalks and/or bike lanes for both ‘rules of the road’ and timed events. The City will assist to ensure routes are feasible and will work to identify alternate options if issues exist (i.e. construction, closures, etc.).
All maps should clearly indicate the overall route and indicate key traffic control devices and/or personnel in place.
For larger events with significant impacts such as road closures or lane closures, a detailed Traffic Management Plan is required. Please see our Road Closures section for more information.
Things to consider when planning your route:
- Intersections with lights - Increases flagger/RCMP requirements
- Single lane vs double lane - Keep one lane open to lessen traffic impact
- Transit - avoid major bus routes and transit exchanges to lessen impact. Please visit BC Transit for more information
- Use bike lanes or sidewalks to minimize roadway impact
- Minimize crossing points (intersections, crosswalks, etc.) for 'rules of the road' events
- Identify feasible detour routes
The City of Kelowna has a useful mapping tool that can assist in the creation of your route.
Road closures may be approved as part of the Outdoor Event Permit.
Requirements for road closures:
- Signage posted on impacted roadways a minimum 2 weeks in advance of closures
- Class 1 barricades
- At all entry points
- Accompanied by marshal/volunteer
- Class 3 barricades
- Required at all unmanned entry points
- Emergenct corridor of 20ft (6m) throughout
- Traffic Mangement Plan
- Courtesy Tows, as necessary
- Community Notification of road closures to impacted residents and businesses
- Clearly defined detour routes
Traffic Management Plans
Detailed Traffic Management Plans showing all traffic control devices and personnel, detour routes, and traffic flow are the responsibility of the organizer. The Traffic Management Plan is subject to City approval and must be implemented by the organizer as approved.
All requirements identified by the BC Ministry of Transportation, City of Kelowna, RCMP, Work Safe BC, Motor Vehicle Act or other related governing bodies must be adhered to.
When required, RCMP support will be enlisted for traffic management at the organizer's cost and managed through the Outdoor Event Permit.
Ministry of Transportation (MOT) approval is required for any provincial highways, roadways, lands and waterways. MOT approval is required as part of the Outdoor Event Permit. Please visit Ministry of Transportation for more information.
Depending on size, scope, and type of event, varying levels of security may be required. Examples include:
- Events with Liquor Service:
- Special Event Permit (SEP) details will dictate required security
- A Security Plan will be required for large events with liquor service
- Overnight structures in the park
- Events with high attendance
- Ticketed Events
- Other (i.e. complexity, nature, demographic, time of day, length, etc.)
Level of staffing will be determined as part of the Outdoor Event Permit and is the organizer’s cost and responsibility to manage.
Creating a clear and easy to read site map is important to the hosting and implementation of a successful event. A site map is required for all events taking place on city property. As part of the Outdoor Event Permit, the Events Team may facilitate a site walk to familiarize the organizer with onsite amenities and conditions of use.
For larger events, a Production Schedule is required, indicating load-in/out plans and timelines. Many event sites have specific guidelines for access. It is the organizer’s responsibility to ensure contractors are aware of and adhere to guidelines.
When creating a site map, the following should be indicated:
- Areas of use - if using multiple areas of the park, each area should be indicated on the map with activities and/or requirements. This includes areas such as parking lots, lake-based events, beach area, etc.
- Vehicle and Emergency access/egress - many parks have specific access routes and guiedlines. A minimum 6m (20ft.) emergency access route is required through the event site
- Portable washrooms - location should be easily accessible for servicing, and where feasible, placed on a hard surface
- Dumpsters - location should be away from the main event area, easily accessible for servicing, and where feasible, placed on a hard surface
- Tents; including sizing information
- Inflatables and other onsite activities such as amusement rides, petting zoos, etc.
- All infrastructure such as staging, bleachers, fencing, barricades, display vehicles, etc.
- First Aid/Medical Centre Location
- Volunteer Tent location - if applicable
- For site maps with beer gardens or full site licensing:
- Ticket sales areas
- Service areas
- Entrances and exits
- Security locations
TIP: Place anything requiring electrical access by the onsite services to running cords long distances (saves money and removes potential tripping hazards)
The City of Kelowna has a useful mapping tool that can assist with the creation of your site map.
Please note for events with activities on the water, it is the organizer's responsiblity to confirm any Transport Canada or Ministry of Transportation requirements and to have adequate safety measures in place.
All City of Kelowna Parks are smoke-free. Smoking is not permitted in parks as well as all areas within park boundaries inclusive of: access roads, parking lots, walkways, linear parks, beaches, playgrounds, water parks, sport fields, buildings and stadiums. E-cigarettes are also prohibited. (Parks and Public Spaces Bylaw #10680)
Exceptions may be permitted as part of the Event Permit. If approved, smoking areas are required to be indicated on the site map, and it is the organizers responsibility to manage maintenance and waste removal with receptacles.
City permission is required for an event wishing to serve or sell liquor to be consumed on City property. Permission is provided as part of the Outdoor Event Permit. Information required for approval includes:
- Full site vs beer garden
- Capacity request
- Family vs 19+
- Type of liquor being served
- Site map indicating location of service areas, fencing, etc.
- Security plan – depending on size and scope of liquor service, varying levels of security are required
- For larger events with liquor service, detailed information will be required for security and emergency plans, beverage management and site management
Once permission from the City has been granted, the organizer must apply for a Special Event Permit as per the BC Liquor Distribution Branch. Submission of the Special Event Permit is required as part of the Outdoor Event Permit.
RCMP representation may be required at licensed events. The RCMP determines staffing requirements and the cost is the responsibility of the organizer. RCMP requirements are facilitated through the Outdoor Event Permit.
Many City parks have onsite washrooms to service the general public. Extra supplies and cleanings are coordinated by the City of Kelowna to support onsite events at no charge back to the organizer (some exceptions may apply).
When event attendance exceeds onsite services, it is the organizers responsibility to arrange for portable washrooms. The cleaning and security of the portable washrooms is the responsibility of the organizer. For general planning, the recommendation for quantity is at a ratio of one portable washroom/stall per one hundred people (1:100). This includes onsite washroom facilities and portable washrooms.
Accessible portable washrooms should be added if onsite accessible stalls are limited in number.
Portable washrooms should be placed on a hard surface where feasible, and easily accessible for load in/out and servicing.
The City of Kelowna is proud to offer garbage, recycle, and refundable bins and bags, at no charge, to assist in the waste management of your event.
- Bins can be requested through the Events Office as part of the Outdoor Event Permit
- The City will drop prior to the event and pickup post event
- Management of provided garbage/recycle/refundables and the permanent onsite bins during the event is the responsibility of the organizer. City staff will also assist to monitor permanent onsite bins
- It is the organizers responsibility for all garbage/recycle and refundable bag removal post event
City parks generally do not have access to onsite dumpsters. It is the responsibility of the organizer to provide dumpsters for recycle and garbage as part of their waste management plan.
Dumpster location should be located on the site map and drop/pickup times will need to be provided as it often occurs outside of the event date. Insurance will need to cover the entire time infrastructure such as dumpsters are in the park.
A good waste management plan can be a major contributor to a successful event. Without one, the event site can look messy, dirty and unappealing, lowering the quality of the experience for attendees.
- Suggestions for efficient waste management:
- Strategically place bins where obvious garbage will be created – ie by food trucks, booths, or existing receptacles
- Group the garbage/recycle/refundables bins together in groups of 3 so participants can make the right choice. If not together, attendees are likely to dump everything into one bin
- Plan a process and identify locations for discarding full bags - ie dumpster, back of truck, etc. For larger events, book golf carts to expedite process
- Have a dedicated team responsible for overseeing the bin. I.e. Solicit a sports team or community group to manage the refundables portion in exchange for keeping the profit or offer an honorarium for full waste management
- Ensure volunteers are monitoring onsite bins as well as event bins
Access to water is available in many parks at the organizer’s request. Please note, some sources are not potable. Options and availability will be determined as part of the Outdoor Event Permit.
The City encourages event organizers to go green and encourage event attendees to bring refillable water bottles to events.