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Calgary councillors pitch biz license fee relief extension

Two Calgary city councillors are pitching an additional $9 million in relief for city businesses by waiving licensing fees through 2022.

City of Calgary administration has recommended freezing license fees at $0 for 2021. Couns. Jeff Davison and Ward Sutherland want that extended through 2022.

“Calgary’s small businesses have been severely impacted by COVID-19,” said Davison.

“By waiving license fees to $0 for new and existing businesses, we are committed to proving that Calgary is ready and open for business.”

Earlier this month, Davison successfully amended a motion by fellow councillor Jeromy Farkas. The original motion called for a blanket 0 per cent tax cap across the board. Davison amended it to keep a 10 per cent cap on some businesses, but direct $30 million in relief to small and medium-sized Calgary businesses.  The original motion would have seen large multinational companies get the bulk of the relief.

Councillors will review measures for targeted business relief at the March 22 combined meeting of council. This is when Sutherland and Davison will attempt to amend administration recommendations.

Currently, business license fees range from $100 to $1,284 for new businesses and $64 to $782 to renew. The cost of this relief is roughly $9 million.

“This is about restoring the Calgary Advantage and promoting Calgary as the place to do business in Western Canada,” said Sutherland.

“We know that the economic recovery from COVID-19 will take time. By waiving license fees for a longer time, we hope to give breathing room to small businesses now and as they start up again.”