Edmonton Update: Phase One of Relaunch Includes Relaxed Restrictions and Economic Recovery Program Announcement

This blog was originally posted on May 29, 2020.

The City of Edmonton has announced an economic recovery program for businesses. The five-pronged initiative includes a reduction in business license fees and the ability for businesses and organizations to access grants of up to $75,000. The city will start accepting applications for the grants on June 15, 2020.

The five prongs of the Economic Recovery Plan include:

  1. Businesses will have the option to reduce business licence fee payment by 50 per cent (upon request) until December 31, 2020;
  2. The Edmonton Economic Recovery Grant will provide funding to support business during the initial relaunch and recovery phase;
  3. Continued One-on-One Support Program;
  4. Process improvements and red tape reduction; and
  5. Nimble responses to specific business needs for relaunch and recovery.

Edmonton Economic Recovery Grant

The Edmonton Economic Recovery Grant is a two-phased funding program designed to support businesses in the initial relaunch and through the recovery phase. The funds will be delivered through two streams: grants for individual businesses; and grants for business associations, organizations and economic development groups.

  1. Individual Business Grants

The city stream will provide grants of a maximum of $25,000 per grant to individual businesses struggling to reopen or pivot their business as a result of COVID-19. Businesses will be required to match the grant amount.

Businesses can apply for grant funding in one of two phases:

  • Phase 1: Matching microgrants up to $1,000, $2,500 or $5,000 (June-December 2020)
  • Phase 2: Matching grants up to $25,000 for longer term diversification initiatives (beginning January 2021)

Businesses can only receive funding in one of the two phases. Assess timing and the needs of your business in deciding to apply in Phase 1 (2020) or Phase 2 (2021).

Update: The city is now accepting applications for the Edmonton Economic Recovery Grant on a weekly basis, for 24 hours or until 100 applications are received.

Key Information About the Grant:

  • You must have access to funding to match the amount you are asking for (i.e. you must be able to cover half of the total budget).
  • Grant funds can only be used for the purpose outlined in the grant application.
  • You are required to submit receipts and invoices to the city within 90 days of the cheque being issued.
  • Funding to successful applicants will be in the form of a cheque, which will be mailed to the address that you have provided.
  • Funding decisions made by the city are final and cannot be appealed.
  • The city reserves the right to audit applications and projects that receive funding. You may need to provide additional information to verify the funding was used for the intended purpose outlined in your application.
  • The city may change or clarify the grant criteria at any time to be responsive to the needs of businesses. Updated information can be found here.

Eligibility

  • Your business must be located in Edmonton.
  • Your business must have seen demonstrated revenue decline or financial hardship as a result of COVID-19.
  • You must have a valid business licence unless the city does not require you to have one. If you are unsure if you need a business license, please call 311.
  • Only business owners or an appropriate designated authority, can apply.

How to Apply

Applications will be accepted weekly, for 24 hours or until 75 applications are received. Applications can be submitted online every Monday at 9 a.m., and the application form will be available here. Each intake period will be open for 24 hours or until the City receives 75 applications.

Given that there are limited grants available, you will want to prepare your grant application in advance and be ready to submit it when the applications open. You will want to have the following information available in advance:

  • Applicant name, mailing address and contact information.
  • Completed and signed declaration in digital form, which will available here once it becomes available.
  • Business name, address and website.
  • Business license number.
  • Information about your business: who does your business serve? What industry does it belong to? (multiple choice).
  • Business demographic information (multiple choice).
  • Has your business experienced a decline in revenue in Q2 2020 compared to Q2 2019?
  • If you receive a grant, what will you use the funding to accomplish and why is this outcome important? How does this work align with the core criteria listed below? (maximum 500 words).

More information, including a list of frequently asked questions, can be found on the City’s website.

Grants for Organizations

These grants are for business associations, organizations and groups and are intended to support local economic development and help businesses recover from COVID-19. Matching grants can be used to support short-term needs related to recovery as well as longer term initiatives related to diversification of the local economy.

Phase 1 funding will provide up to $75,000 in matching grants to support the immediate needs and recovery efforts for Edmonton’s businesses (Beginning June 15, 2020). Phase 2 funding will provide up to $75,000 matching grants for longer term recovery initiatives (Beginning January 2, 2021).

Key Information About the Grant:

  • Organizations may submit projects that touch both short-term recovery and longer term diversification elements.
  • This is a 50/50 matching grant. Applicants must match the funding amount requested. For example, if $10,000 is requested, the total spent on the project must be at least $20,000. The matching portion of the costs can include up to 25% in kind contributions. Organizations are requested to provide a calculation of ‘in-kind’ based on reasonable assumptions.
  • Grants are available to business associations that can demonstrate they meet one or more core criteria (with preference to meeting multiple criteria), and also are able to support more than one local business. Applicants interested in supporting just one business should apply under the individual business grant stream.
  • Individual organizations can only receive funding once, unless they are partnered with another organization. Partnered organizations can only receive funding once.
  • Grant funds can only be used for the purpose outlined in the grant application.
  • Projects or programs must be completed within 1 year of the project start date.
  • Applicants will be required to submit a final brief report within 90 days of completing the project or program (the city will provide the template to successful applicants). The final report must evaluate the success and reach of the project or program, and include a cost summary and receipts/invoices to demonstrate fund matching.
  • The city may change or clarify the grant criteria at any time to be responsive to the needs of businesses. Updated information can be found here.

Eligibility

You must be a business association or any member of a partnership that includes a business association, organization or group located in Edmonton and is a legal entity. At least one member of the partnership is required to have a mandate related to economic development.

The nine criteria upon which businesses and associations will be evaluated includes:

  • Jobs
  • Financial stability
  • COVID-19 impact
  • Partner leverage
  • Economic diversification
  • Business transformation
  • Tangible placemaking benefits
  • Environmental alignment
  • Community Impact

How to Apply

You will need to download the application, fill it out, and email it to businessinfo@edmonton.ca any time on/after June 15, 2020. The application form will be available here.

Given there are limited grants available, you will want to prepare your grant application in advance and be ready to complete and submit it as soon as the application becomes available. To prepare for your application, you will need to outline the following information:

  • A description of the project, with a view to the nine criteria listed above.
  • How your organization will complete the project within one year from the project start date.
  • How funding will be leveraged from other sources to match or exceed the grant amount requested.
  • How your project or program will provide benefit to more than one business. Specifying the number of businesses who will benefit would be helpful.
  • Reach of your project along with appropriate justification.

More information, including a list of frequently asked questions, can be found on the city’s website.

Reduction in Business License Fee

Businesses with license renewals pending between June 1 and December 31, 2020 will have the option to reduce their business license fees by 50%. To take advantage of the reduced fee option, businesses must contact the city directly.

The city is setting aside $3.1 million to cover reduced fees, with the aim of filling “some of the gaps that extensive provincial and federal programs have yet to meet.”

One-on-One Support Program

The One-on-One Support Program is a resource available in Edmonton to support small businesses and assist with navigating the challenges of starting a new business, including navigating the business license and permitting process. To access the One-on-One Support Program, complete the form or email smallbusiness@edmonton.ca.

Status Update on Business and Operations in Edmonton

On May 28, 2020, the city renewed the State of Local Emergency. Unless renewed or cancelled, the State of Local Emergency is in place for seven days.

Since the Provincial Stage One Relaunch on May 14, 2020, Edmonton has announced several other measures which signal the city’s intention to relax restrictions on citizens and business.

  • city-owned golf courses reopened to the public on May 11;
  • off-leash dog parks have been reopened;
  • relaxation of rules around patio expansions for local businesses;
  • outdoor courts reopened May 22;
  • city playgrounds reopened May 22;
  • animal Care and Control reopened intake;
  • paid parking in the downtown core will be reinstated June 8;
  • Edmonton Valley Zoo reopened June 15, with some restrictions;
  • the city resumed rentals of city-owned sports fields, ball diamonds, and staffed track and field facilities on June 15
  • the city reopened 25 select spray parks for safe use on July 2;
  • picnic bookings became available for select sites on July 4, 2020

Outdoor pools and City of Edmonton summer programming will remain closed/suspended for the 2020 season. Rentals for paddleboards, kayaks and other water equipment will not be offered at Rundle and Hawrelak parks. Libraries, Day Camps, and eScooters are under assessment for phase two.

Businesses beginning to reopen will likely have many questions and may encounter many challenging circumstances in doing so, and we are here to help you navigate these challenges. If you have questions relating to your organization’s specific circumstances, please reach out to MLT Aikins for assistance.

Note: This article is of a general nature only and is not exhaustive of all possible legal rights or remedies. In addition, laws may change over time and should be interpreted only in the context of particular circumstances such that these materials are not intended to be relied upon or taken as legal advice or opinion. Readers should consult a legal professional for specific advice in any particular situation.