Canadian Rockies Business License Information Guide

Wedding Industry Meet Up:
Shooting in the Alberta Rockies
An overview of the business license issue
and requirements for photographing
weddings the Mountains
About Brian Merry
Started shooting professionally in the Bow
Valley in 1997.
I’ve been FT (11 years) and PT (6 years)
Presntly in 2012 I’m FT photographer and I have
a PT job too for less than 2 days a week
About Bmerry (memberships)
The Better Business Bureau
International Special Events Society
(ISES), Calgary Chapter
Licensed photographer in the Town of Banff and
Banff National Park
A few Banff Businesses are reporting unlicensed
wedding professionals
This has been happening since at least 1997
A very small part of the Banff wedding industry
does this.
Last year Businesses in Calgary start talking
about rude warning emails and letters they
received from the Town of Banff stating they
are operating illegally in the town.
At least one photographer has been
approached during a paid session.
Mid January I became aware this was a problem
brothering Calgary wedding professionals
Edward Ross et. al. started a petition that was
presented to the Banff town council today,
Monday Feb. 13, 2012
As I monitored the FB groups and talked with
established pros I know in Calgary, I began to
realize that there was a lot of false rumours
being passed around as fact
This presentation summaries my findings after
researching the topic.
I hope the information I present here will help
you base your good decisions on this accurate
Bow Valley Wedding Industry
12 out of 65 members responded to this poll:
4 votes: - Visiting wedding business are welcome as long as
they buy a Banff license
6 votes: - Visiting businesses don’t need a license for up to
three weddings a year
2 votes: - I’m undecided about the business license issue
0 votes: - I want weddings to use local businesses only and
discourage visiting businesses
Navigating the Business license regulations in
the Canadian Rockies is confusing.
I’ve summarized the regulations and bylaws
here (as of Feburary 2012) to help you base you
make informed decisions based on good
8 Different Government Districts
Three levels of governments issue business licenses in
eight different jurisdictions in the Canadian Rockies near
• The 4 national parks(Banff, Yoho, Jasper and Waterton)
• The provincial parks (Kananaskis, Bow Valley?)
• 3 Towns and municipal districts (Banff, Canmore and
the MD of Bighorn)
Also consider the Stoney Nakoda Reservation
Kananaskis (provincial)
Do weddings, or those that conduct weddings, require a business license?
Answer from the website:
An agency or organization that provides wedding services in the KID to
customers requires a business license.
The CAO of Kananaskis contradicted this on the phone.
He told me that visiting wedding photographers don’t
need a business license. Park Rangers have also told
me that photographers don’t need a license.
Check and make sure before your wedding.
Kananaskis (provincial)
Non-resident Business licenses (from the website):
Non-resident businesses:
(a) Small business $180
(b) Regular business $575
(c) Major business $1,470
A small business grosses less than $10,000 of business in
A regular business grosses $10,000-$750,000 of business in
MD of Bighorn (municipal)
This includes all areas:
east of Canmore and
west of the ghost lakes reservoir and
the Stony-Nakoda Native Reserve and
north to Waiparous, Bar-C Ranch
MD of Bighorn (municipal)
Venues include:
Rafter Six Ranch,
Bow valley Provincial Park,
Kananaskis Guest Ranch,
Bar “C” Ranch and
the YWCA summer camp
MD of Bighorn (municipal)
Visiting businesses aren’t required to buy a
business license if they are legally licensed in
the municipality where their legally located.
That is, Calgary, Canmore and Banff businesses
don’t need to buy a business license when
they shoot in the MD of Bighorn
MD of Bighorn (municipal)
MD council has talked informally to Canmore
and with a consultant about a uniform license
for the Bow Valley including Exshaw,
Canmore and Banff
This type of license exists in Parkland County
which forms part of their tourism strategy
- Ref: CAO Martin Buckley
Town of Canmore
Who Needs a Business Licence?
Any person or business advertising or
conducting business in Canmore is required
by Town Bylaw to hold a valid business
registry licence.
Town of Canmore
“Business" is defined as:
• a commercial, merchandising, marketing or
industrial activity or undertaking;
• a profession, trade, occupation, calling or
employment; or
• an activity providing goods or services,
• “Carry On Business" is defined as operate,
perform, keep, hold, occupy, deal in or use, for
gain, whether as principal or agent.
Town of Canmore
Non resident annual business License fees:
Jan. 1st to Dec. 31st $600
Canmore does prorate Business licenses
If purchased on:
• July 1st $300
• Oct 1st $150
Canmore (municipal)
Town of Canmore Business license clerk:
Fines for operating without a license:
– 1st $250
– 2nd $500
– 3rd $1000
Town of Banff
Earlier today, Feb. 13, 2012
The petition started by Edward Ross was
presented to the Banff town council by Edward
Ross et. Al.
Town of Banff
Town business license is $140 plus $459
Sector fee (Photographers and Planners).
Total resident license fee is $599.
Non-resident surcharge is $140
A non-resident license total is $739
Town of Banff
There are Temporary licenses for 30 consecutive
days in the Town of Banff.
You are allowed to buy temporary licenses
multiple times a year.
Temporary business license cost:
$140+non-resident fee $140 = $280
Town of Banff
If a non-resident who has held a temporary
license in a given calendar year decides to get
an annual license they are credited the
temporary license fees they already paid.
An annual license would be cheaper than buying
a third temporary license.
Town of Banff
If you decide to buy an annual license part way through a
calendar year your fee is prorated quarterly
Jan. 1st:
Apr. 1st:
July 1st:
Oct. 1st:
$459 + $140 = $599
$345 + $140 = $485
$230 + $140 = $370
$115 + $140 = $255
If you’re a non-resident add $140 more to this total.
Town of Banff
If you choose not to renew your annual Banff
business license:
– At the end of the year you have to write to the
town to say you will not be renewing your license
or you’ll be charged late fees after Jan. 31st
Fine for no license is $500
At least one photographer has been
approached by a Park Warden during a paid
shoot and asked to produce his business license.
Banff National Park (federal)
A Banff National Park license cost:
$196 per park (April 1st , to March 31st)
No prorated licenses. If you buy one in
October it is good until March 31st and still
costs $196
Banff National Park (federal)
You have to have business insurance.
Your insurance policy has to name the “Queen”
as insured in addition to yourself. Contact
the business licensing office at Parks Canada
for the exact wording. The number is
Banff National Park (federal)
Photographing in Other National Parks
If you photograph in multiple parks such as at
Emerald Lake in Yoho National Park,
Waterton, or in Jasper you have to buy
another license for each park
After your first NP license the other licenses are
faster to get ($196 each)
Banff National Park (federal)
Do Landscape Photographers need a business license?
Maybe, if they are doing freelance work that they may or
may not sell to an unknown client later they don’t
need a business license.
If they are conducting a workshop, tour or working on a
commissioned shoot they require a business license.
Banff National Park (federal)
National Parks Regulations and Banff National Park
Film/Photography Guidelines:
- Activities in the park must not exceed a crew size
of 2 persons with minimal equipment (camera,
lights and reflectors).
- All crewmembers will exercise minimal impact on
the environment and stay on designated trails
Banff National Park (federal)
National Parks Regulations and Banff National
Park Film/Photography Guidelines:
- All vehicles must be parked in designated
areas only. No off-road parking is permitted
- Crewmembers do not have exclusive use of
any areas within the park. Activities must not
impede other visitors experience, disrupt
wildlife or damage the environment.
Banff National Park (federal)
The licensee shall produce this licence upon request
of the Superintendent, any person authorized to act
on his behalf, Park Warden or any police officer.
This means you have to carry the license on you
when you’re shooting.
Fine for no license is up to $2000
Do businesses based outside of Calgary need a
licence to photograph a wedding in Calgary?
Non-residents of Calgary
Case Study:
A Banff photographer is hired to shoot a
wedding in Calgary
Non-residents of Calgary
Non-resident companies pay the same fees as
resident firms, plus a surcharge to
approximate the Calgary business tax levy
they don't pay.
Non-residents of Calgary
Before the Banff photographer can photograph a
wedding in Calgary he needs to get:
– a criminal record check, $40
– pay for the business license, $153
– and pay a non-resident fee, $604
The total fee for a non-resident Calgary business
license is $797
I have these documents available for download on my
• This PowerPoint presentation
• The Banff Town and National park business license flow
• Guidelines for commercial photographers operating
professionally in Banff National Park.

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