Calgary city council has voted to waive fees related to some business licences for two years in an effort to lessen the impact of challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Business licence renewal fees were previously waived for a year in 2020, in an attempt to offset the impact of closures and health measures that reduced capacity on local businesses due to COVID-19.
The decision Monday to do so again in 2021 and 2022 is part of city council’s plan to provide $30 million in relief for businesses, which it approved on March 1.
Coun. Ward Sutherland and Coun. Jeff Davison had called for an extension of the fee freeze through 2022 last week.
“Through the work of the business advisory committee, we’ve really looked over the long term,” Davison said at the time.
“The pandemic is going to have long-lived effects on small business here in Calgary, and so extending the plan through to 2022 is likely a good thing that we can do to show business that we’re serious and committed to keeping them open.”
Fees that will be waived include licences for businesses, fire inspections and planning. Business owners still have to get all approvals and renewals necessary to ensure they can operate safely, the city said.
“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,” said Sonya Sharp, the leader of business and local economy at the City of Calgary, in a press release.
The city estimates that the revenue received through these fees would have been about $17.6 million for two years.
City administration said that it will consider more options for business support in May when it decides what to do with the remaining $12.4 million in its relief fund.
Options under consideration include grants for small businesses and additional support for those hit hardest by the pandemic.