City of Calgary offering support for new businesses opening during pandemic
After being laid off at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, three Calgarians have come together to do what others would find daunting: opening a new business.
Instead of calling it quits, a new idea took root for hairstylists April, Shelley and Amanda when they decided to open their own hair salon. Rootbar will specialize in one-hour luxury services, tailored to Calgarians' busy lifestyles. They say it's been scary to open a new business during a global pandemic, but the process was made easier because of quick and helpful interactions with The City of Calgary.
“That was a big concern because of the time frame, we thought we were going to be delayed but The City has really stepped up and surprised us. It’s been fantastic,” said Shelley Breitkreitz. “When you have all these people hired and ready to go, you need things done really quickly.”
Once they contacted The City, any worries about delays getting permits, a business licence, applications and inspections vanished. “All of our inspections have happened super quickly,” said April Brown. The City’s online chat and business hub website mean sorting through the required permits and steps online is easy.
And while they haven’t visited the planning service counter inside the Municipal Building to speak with clerks face-to-face, the process has been anything but remote, said April. “It’s been very easy, actually, and people have been really kind. Everyone’s been going above and beyond to make this personal. It’s been really great.”
If business owners would prefer to apply in person, they are still able to visit the counter with plexiglass to divide people for safety.
Because Rootbar was conceptualized during the pandemic, they were able to tailor the design of their space to physical distancing, the mask bylaw and exemptions.
Shelley has words of encouragement for other entrepreneurs considering opening a business.
“There’s no better time than now. As much of a struggle as it was we knew we had the dream team to make something wonderful happen, to make people feel good, and reassure them that things will be okay.”
The City’s Business Sector task force is supporting businesses through COVID-19 by serving as a conduit to the business community to share their immediate needs and find solutions. In 2020, various permit fees for development and building waived for customers equaled more than $2.26 million, with deferred fees of more than $2 million.
“Supporting Calgary’s businesses is key,” says Sonya Sharp, Leader of Business and Local Economy. “It’s important for The City to prioritize business needs right now because local businesses make up the fabric of our community and many of them have been hit hard during the pandemic and will continue to face challenges. The City is focused on being business friendly over the long term, but we’re also trying hard to be quick and nimble to help those entrepreneurs who are innovating so they can bounce back quicker from the pandemic.”
The City is reducing barriers, time and cost to enable business owners’ success. We’re making improvements to make it easier for business owners to apply for and renew permits and licences online through the virtual myBusiness hub, and get answers you need through online chat, email or telephone.
And we’re encouraging Calgarians to buy local to support shops and services through our #SupportLocalYYC campaign.
We offer live chat on calgary.ca/livechat, or you can contact us through the Planning Services Centre at 403-268-5311, Monday to Friday 8 a.m.-4 p.m.
Visit calgary.ca/mybusiness to learn more about what supports are available to you and your business.