From sanitizer to food donations, The City enables businesses looking to pivot to new ventures

The business landscape in Calgary has changed drastically since the city’s first case of COVID-19. With retail outlets closed, and food services operating curbside or take-out operations, many business owners are grappling with how to make ends meet - but many are also looking for ways to help.

From local knitting circles and mask-makers to large corporations, Calgarians are pitching in. Some local businesses are looking to change their production lines, while others are finding innovative ways to keep serving customers.

“The City is here to help any local business make changes to how they do their operations,” says Adam Ghani, chief electrical inspector, Calgary Building Services. “Already we’ve partnered with the Calgary Fire Department to help a local brewery retrofit their business and their facility to safely make hand sanitizer.”

Hand sanitizer is in short supply, and local distilleries and breweries, including Annex Ales, Confluence Distilling and Minhas Brewery, have successfully pivoted their facilities to a new line of production. However “alcohol-based sanitizer is highly flammable, and safety is our number one priority,” says Ghani. He encourages anyone considering the production of alcohol-based hand sanitizer to contact the Calgary Fire Department before making any modifications to their facility.

The City has officials on-hand like safety codes officers and building inspectors to support business owners who want to make changes and get up-and-running safely. “We’ve already seen a 20 per cent increase in applications for home-based businesses,” says Cliff De Jong, manager, Customer Solutions & Business Registration. “And we continue to field calls about applying for building permits and getting inspections.”

One example is The Leftovers Foundation, which receives excess food from restaurant suppliers and distributes it to the less fortunate. Executive Director Lourdes Juan approached The City about assistance with their new warehouse lease and concerns about HVAC requirements. “Ultimately, we were able to work collaboratively with our community planning team to confirm that no building permit was required,” says Ulrik Seward, chief building official.

In times of crisis, Calgarians are working together. “It’s important that local companies in Calgary know that we’re here to help,” says Seward. If you’re a local business thinking of changing your operations, or just want advice on what to do, contact the Planning Services Centre at (403) 268-5311 open from 8 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. or speak to us over live chat at