Targeted relief for businesses impacted by COVID-19
The City of Calgary is taking immediate action to support businesses and keep our local economy afloat throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. City Council has approved waiving business license-related fees for a period of two years to support 40,000 businesses in Calgary as they continue responding to the challenges arising from the pandemic.
On March 1, 2021, Council approved $30 million for directed relief to businesses impacted by COVID-19 and directed Administration to develop options for how best to deploy these funds. The estimated revenue received through these fees is $17.6 million for two years. This will include waiving the following fees:
- Business licence (new: $172, renewal: $131);
- Fire inspection (new: $64/$104/$202 depending on business type, renewal: $80);
- Planning ($41);
- and Calgary Police Service ($65)
“Healthy businesses are the foundation of a thriving economy, and waiving business-related fees keeps money in the pockets of business owners during a time when they need it most,” says Sonya Sharp, Leader, Business and Local Economy at The City of Calgary. “Small businesses create jobs for all Calgarians and with the current economic climate, it is more important than ever that The City continue to demonstrate support for them. This includes providing financial relief where possible as well as continuing to reduce barriers for businesses in City processes.”
Business licence renewal fees were previously waived for a period of one year in 2020 and funded through the Business Licence Sustainment Reserve. Even though the fee is waived, business owners are still must obtain all approvals required to obtain a business licence, and renew their licences annually to ensure they operate safely. When putting together the proposal to waive fees again, the Business Sector Task Force and the Business Advisory Committee received advice and feedback from the business community, partners and working groups regarding the most appropriate targeted relief and future financial relief to businesses impacted by COVID-19.
“For the mental health of a lot of small business owners, even a small amount will help,” says Annie MacInnis, Executive Director of the Kensington Business Improvement Area and member of the Business Sector Task Force. “I like the idea of forgiving all fees for two years. It’s easy and innovative. As with the recently announced Business Improvement Area levy relief program, Calgary will again get attention from across Canada for the creative and directed ways The City is supporting small and medium businesses. Calgary BIAs are incredibly grateful for The City’s ongoing support for our outdoor shopping districts. Together we are indeed stronger.”
Administration will also return to Council in May with options for additional business supports and relief measures utilizing the remaining $12.4 million. These options may include, but are not limited to a grant system for small businesses, supports for Calgary businesses that have been hardest hit by the pandemic, and supports for all businesses impacted by COVID-19.
In addition to the relief announced today, The City has provided several forms of business support, including:
- We have allocated over $4.2 million in provincial and federal COVID-19 recovery funding towards Business Improvement Areas (BIAs). All 6,044 businesses located within the BIAs had a one-time credit equal to their 2021 BIA tax bill applied to their account.
- We’re continuing to allow patios on public land, prioritizing those applications, and waived development permit, license of occupation and temporary permission fees for 2020 and 2021.
- Through the COVID-19 pandemic, various permit fees for development and building waived for customers are over $2.26 million, with deferred fees of over $2 million in 2020.
- Thanks to federal support, we provided hundreds of small businesses and artists with free online stores through ShopHERE powered by Google.
- We’re encouraging Calgarians to buy local to support shops and services through our ongoing #SupportLocalYYC campaign.