Just like the federal and provincial governments, municipal governments also have a crucial role to play in helping your business survive the COVID-19 pandemic. Municipalities can—and should—put in place relief measures to support you, your employees and your business.
CFIB is fighting for support for your business from all levels of government. Our recommendations are directly based on feedback gathered from our members via regular surveys. Here’s what we’re telling municipal governments in Alberta they can do to help—and here’s what they’ve done so far.
Alberta-specific recommendations for municipalities
We are asking municipalities in Alberta to:
- Delay any planned tax increases;
- Defer property tax payments and waive all interest and penalties for unpaid installments;
- Do not introduce any new bylaws or regulations, other than those needed to address COVID-19;
- Work with the provincial government to urge landlords to provide accommodation and leniency to commercial tenants for delays rental payments;
- Accelerate approval for construction projects and home renovations to keep people working;
- Pay money owing to my business quickly (tax credits, contracts with government, etc.);
- Cease routine audits;
- Follow the provincial government’s lead and allow residents and small business to defer utility bill payments for the next 90 days; and
- Introduce a Noise By-law exemption to allow for 24-hour service delivery of essential services to operate outside the current daytime hours.
Which municipalities have put in place relief measures already?
Here’s what municipalities across Alberta have done so far to help small business.
Property Tax Deferral
The tax payment deadline has been extended from June 30 to September 30 without late payment penalties. More information here.
City Council approved the cancellation of any Business Improvement Area (BIA) Tax penalties between April 1 and June 30. This means that any business that has not already paid their BIA tax has until June 30, 2020 to pay a penalty free. A penalty of 7% would apply to taxes outstanding as of July 1, 2020.
Temporary outdoor patio and sidewalk cafe changes
The City has developed a new process to approve temporary patios on public land. Businesses can call 403-268-5311 to start their application. There is no fee for a temporary permission on public land. However, if a patio is on private property a development permit is required. Click here for more information.
Tax Instalment Payment Plan (TIPP) Payment
Non-residential property owners participating in TIPP will see a decrease in the April 1 instalment equal to the provincial property tax portion. This portion has been deferred for six months. The Tax Installment Payment Plan (TIPP) has suspended its 2% filing fee for taxpayers who join TIPP after January 1, which has been suspended until January 1, 2021.
All ratepayers may elect to pay all, a portion, or none of their City Utilities (water, wastewater, stormwater, and waste/recycling/organics) for April, May, and June without interest or penalty, and have the amounts owing rolled into the remaining bills for 2020.
If you are struggling to pay your water bill during this time you can contact ENMAX, our contracted billing provider, at 310-2010 to discuss options that are available to you.
Water utility customers will not have their water service disconnected for non-payment during this time.
For more information please see the City of Calgary’s COVID-19 website.
The business license renewal fee has been waived until April 30, 2021.
Six-month relief efforts effective May 1, 2020 including:
- Waived Planning & Development fees for change of use and home occupation (class 2) development permits, residential certificates of compliance and pre-application fees, to support businesses adapting to COVID-19 (extended until April 30, 2021).
- Deferred Planning & Development fees for commercial building permits, development permits, subdivisions, land use amendments, outline plans and road closures. 75% of payment will be deferred to final stages of approval, offering financial flexibility of better cash flow management through projects.
- Fee simplification through elimination of the set up front deposit, simplifying by applying one common fee schedule rate to all outline plans and land use amendments, and applying the deferral relief above.
- Extensions on development and building permits offered to ensure existing approvals will not expire while businesses deal with the impacts of COVID-19.
Building permit exemptions
- Tents/structures covering new and existing patios are do not require a building permit
- Exemption requirements:
- A structure not more than 10 sq.m. in area (e.g. a 10’x10’ tent)
- Tents that are:
- more than 3 metres from another structure, AND
- do not cover more than 60 square metres of ground (whether it is one tent or a group of tents), AND
- do not contain commercial cooking equipment, barbecues or any heating elements.
- More information on the exemption can be found here.
Economic Recovery Grant
The Economic Recovery Grant is a two-phased funding program delivered through the City and Business Association streams. The City will provide matching grants up to $25,0000 per grant to applicants struggling to reopen or pivot their business. The Business Association stream will provide up to $75,000 per grant to applicants who deliver project s or programs that directly support the program criteria. Phase 1 of the Grant program will begin June 10, 2020 and is intended to support the most immediate needs the business community is facing for the remainder of 2020. Phase 2 will run in 2021 and will diversify and help future-proof local business. Click here for more information.
Property Tax Deferral
The tax levy for municipal and education property taxes has decreased by 2% for commercial owners. The City is also delaying penalties to property tax payments for Edmontonians experiencing major financial difficulties due to the health emergency. Tax notices will be mailed in May and no late fees will be charged to tax payments made by August 31. Edmontonians who are able to pay their property taxes on schedule are encouraged to do so to help keep the City of Edmonton running during these challenging times.
The City is recommending to the Alberta Utility Commissions and utility partners a deferral period to defer payments up to 90 days, from March 18 to June 18. No interest, penalties or service cut-offs will occur during this period.
Please note, deferrals are not automatic. Contact your utility directly for more information.
For more information please see the City of Edmonton’s Business COVID-19 website.
Temporary outdoor patio and sidewalk cafe changes
The City had temporarily removed fees and development permits for patios and sidewalk space. Rules around temporary patios, sidewalk cafes, and outdoor retail expansions are relaxed so businesses can create more space for your customers in alignment with Alberta Health Services (AHS) guidelines. Until the end of 2020, businesses have the option to expand patio or retail space by following a set of guidelines and signing a declaration form. Click here for more information.
BIA Taxes Business Improvement Area (BIA)
Tax Levy payment penalties have been deferred until at least August 31, 2020. Businesses that are in financial hardship and cannot make their payments by the March 31, 2020 deadline can defer their payments and will not be charged late penalties. More information will be provided directly to BIAs and BIA members.
Effective March 21, parking fees for City of Edmonton curbside and EPark zones are temporarily suspended. This includes City-owned EPark covered, indoor and underground parking facilities. Please note, privately owned parking lots are not included. Property Taxes The City is delaying penalties to property tax payments for Edmontonians experiencing major financial difficulties due to the health emergency. Tax notices will be mailed in May and no late fees will be charged to tax payments made by August 31. Edmontonians who are able to pay their property taxes on schedule are encouraged to do so to help keep the City of Edmonton running during these challenging times.
At the March 23 Council meeting, Council directed Administration to draft relevant bylaw amendments and procedures for the following:
- Extending the property tax deadline for both residential and non-residential property owners to August 31.
- Eliminating penalty fees for May and July, as well as NSF charges on TIPPs until September 1.
- Pausing all notices and reminders for tax arrears until September 1.
For more information please see the City of Grande Prairie’s COVID-19 website.
Currently the 2020 property tax payment deadline is June 30, 2020 at 4:30 p.m.
Anyone currently enrolled in the TIPP Program that is seeking short-term relief should call Lethbridge 311 to talk about different options.
Lethbridge residents will have the option to defer City utility payments for up to 90-days when faced with financial hardships related to COVID-19.
- The deferral period will last from March 18, 2020 until June 18, 2020
- This is a deferral program not a cancellation program – you will need to set up a payment plan after the 90-day deferral period.
All residents have access to utilities at this time and utility customers will not be disconnected due to an overdue account.
For more information please see the City of Lethbridge’s COVID-19 website.
All residential, farm and small commercial customers can defer utility bill payments for 90 days (until June 18) without penalty and disconnection. Customers within this range don’t have to apply to enact this. For all other customers requiring the deferral, you are required to contact [email protected] or call 403.529.8113.
If your account is on a pre-authorized payment plan and you wish to cancel these withdrawals please email [email protected] or call 403.529.8111. Payments can be paid online or via telephone banking until our office is notified to reinstate the pre-authorized withdrawals.
For more information please see the City of Medicine Hat’s COVID-19 website.
On Tuesday, April 14, 2020, City Council supported a decision to defer all property tax payments for 90 days, until September 30. More information here.
Business Improvement Area (BIA) Taxes
The Business Improvement Area (BIA) tax levy deadline has been extended until September 30, 2020.
Residential, farm and small commercial customers can defer their utility payment for water, sewer and waste for the next 90 days. If a customer defers payment, no penalties will be applied. More information here.
For more information please see the City of Red Deer COVID-19 website.
Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo
FAQ on COVID-19
We’re dedicated to supporting your business through this difficult time by compiling answers to the most common COVID-19 questions and keeping you up to date on the latest relief measures both the federal government and the Alberta government. Visit our Small Business Help Center to learn more.