Frequently Asked Questions

 

Eligibility

Q: What types of buildings are eligible?
A: The program focuses on improvements to commercial, institutional and mixed-use buildings. Commercial uses will be interpreted very broadly, including offices, retail, food service, personal services, businesses services and entertainment uses.

Q: What costs are typically eligible for all grants?
A: Eligible costs for all grants include professional and project management fees (up to 15 per cent of project costs), labour, materials and municipal planning permit fees. 

Q: My building is connected to my neighbour. Are we both eligible?
A: Probably. Staff may need to review your property file or complete a site visit to determine what constitutes a building. If your building is connected to another building but is on a separate parcel, has its own building plans, and separate ownership, it is likely a separate building.

Q: Why are window covers (vinyl wraps, tinted windows, etc.) not eligible? Are there exceptions?
A: Vinyl wraps, tinted windows and similar coverings are not conducive to creating a safe, pedestrian-friendly environment. They encourage businesses to “turn their back” on the adjacent public realm and reduce natural surveillance (i.e., “eyes on the street”).

Projects that include window coverings may be allowed in limited circumstances, such as for a type of use that may be required due to other legislation (i.e., cannabis retail).

Applying for the program

Q: Can I apply for more than one grant?
A: Yes. Applicants may apply for each of the four grants. For example, a building owner may apply to upgrade the façade, carry-out interior improvements and add a mural. However, a separate application form must be submitted for each grant being requested. 

Q: I’m a tenant in a building with multiple units. Can I apply?
A: Yes. However, if you are not the property owner (i.e., listed on the land title), you will need to include a letter of permission from the property owner(s) with your application. Applicants in multi-tenant buildings are encouraged to apply early. Grants are allocated to the entire building and are first-come, first served.

For example, each building is eligible for up to the maximum grant of $50,000 for interior improvements. The Municipality will accept applications from tenants for renovations until the $50,000 has been reached. If Tenant A applies for a grant of $10,000 and Tenant B applies for $15,000, the maximum grant for the building means that the property owner or another tenant could apply for the remaining balance of the grant of $25,000 to carry out interior improvements. 

Q: When can I apply?
A: If approved by Council, the program will be opened to applications within a few days. Staff are just putting the finishing touches on the program guidelines and application forms. These will be posted online on the launch date.

Q: How long will it take to review and decide on applications?
A: Applications will be reviewed as quickly as possible depending on the number of applications received. Submitting a complete application is essential and incomplete applications will be rejected. Please note, applications for patios on municipal land will include a two-week circulation in order to obtain comments on the proposed layout.

Q: Can I apply for a project that is already complete?
A: No. Applications will only be accepted for new projects. Work and expenses incurred before the applicant enters into an agreement with the Municipality is ineligible. 

Q: Can I apply if my project has started and is still underway?
A: If the project is eligible for a grant but has already started, it will need to be considered on a case-by-case basis. In short, it depends on how much work has been completed. Any work or expenses an applicant incurs before entering into an agreement is ineligible (e.g., prior invoices for design work, labour or expenses). 

For example, an applicant is doing an unrelated renovation and would now like to use the Interior Improvement Grant to add a barrier free washroom. If no work has been done on the washroom, it would be eligible.

If an applicant is simultaneously making flood-related repairs, the application will need to clearly state how the project constitutes “an improvement” (i.e., not paying for repairs to something that existed previously).

For example, an applicant is repairing the exterior stonework that was damaged by the flood. They would like to apply for the Façade Improvement Grant to upgrade the façade with five new design elements (but keep the restored stonework). They would be eligible for the new elements if the work is not being funded by insurance or DRP. The costs to repair the stonework is ineligible.

Q: Why do I need two contractor estimates? What if I purchase materials myself?
A: For most projects, applicants must provide two contractor estimates to demonstrate competitive pricing. The Municipality will reimburse applicants for eligible costs based on the lower of the two estimates, or the final invoice (if lower). 

In some instances, applicants may not require contractor estimates. For example, if the applicant purchases seasonal planters or installs a patio that does not involve any construction. In such cases, applicants may submit their own budget, including product information and pricing for materials they intend to purchase themselves in lieu of contractor estimates. 

Q: Do I need to use local contractors?
A: No. While this is certainly encouraged, it is not required as per the program policy. 

Q: Are there deadlines to complete projects?
A: Yes. To ensure that projects are completed in a timely manner, applicants will be required to begin construction within three months of signing an agreement with the Municipality and complete construction within six months of signing the agreement. Applicants will be required to install seasonal planters and similar items within three weeks.

The Municipality may consider extensions to these timeframes under certain circumstances. Because the grants are awarded on a first-come, first-served basis, having these deadlines means that funds are not tied up indefinitely and can go back into the pool and be available to other applicants. 

Q: Is the program budget ($5 million) allocated to the specific grants?
A: No. The budget is available to all grants.

Permitting

Q: Do I need to obtain permits?
A: Yes. Depending on the project, municipal permits may be required. Applicants are strongly encouraged to contact the Municipality to obtain advice on permitting and municipal requirements prior to applying for a grant. Permits must be obtained prior to starting construction.

Your project may require:

  • a business licence
  • development permits
  • building permits
  • trades permits (e.g., electrical, plumbing)
  • permission to occupy municipal lands (Encroachment Agreement Licence, Municipal Letter of Consent, and Utility Installation & Street Occupancy Permit)
  • permission to construct a structure above municipal land (Encroachment Agreement)

Patio developments may also require a Food Handling Permit from Alberta Health Services (AHS), and a Liquor Licence from the Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis (AGLC).

Q: What types of permits/fees are covered by the program?
A: The program will cover municipal planning permit fees, such as development permits, building permits and trades permits. Please note that all fees are waived RMWB-wide until Aug. 31, 2020. For applications submitted after this date, contractor quotes should include the cost for permits and receipts should be retained.

FLOOD RECOVERY: Information and resources