On February 22, Grande Prairie City Council approved two new initiatives to support businesses. First, $125,000 from the Economic Recovery Fund for the Barrier-Free Grant to improve accessibility to buildings and properties around the city. Second, a fee waiver for drinking establishments to apply to allow all-ages during the day, like restaurants.

The Barrier-Free Grant is funded from the City’s COVID-19 Economic Recovery Fund which was created to provide immediate economic relief, stimulus funding, and investment in the community.

The Barrier-Free Grant offers up to 50% to a maximum of $10,000 to increase accessibility to properties and buildings throughout the City. It is designed to incentivize business, commercial property owners, and non-profits to invest in removing any barriers that prevent persons with physical, cognitive or sensory disabilities from accessing spaces.

Eligible projects include improvements to the interior or exterior of the building, such as transitions from parking areas to the building entrance and ensuring unobstructed access to services through projects such as service counters, seating areas, or accessible washrooms.

Helping business move towards more accessible spaces is an important part of the City's commitment to building a welcoming and inclusive community for all residents.

The program will open for applications in March and an announcement will be made with additional details and eligibility.

City Council also approved a fee waiver for bars or restaurants looking to change their permitted use to the new category ‘Restaurant and Drinking Establishment Major/Minor’ which allows a business to operate as a family restaurant during the day and a bar in the evening.

The fee waiver recognizes the desire for businesses to adapt due to COVID-19 restrictions. It also eliminates the potential financial barrier with the waiver of the fee to apply for the change of use. The application fee for a Change of Use is $400 where the use is permitted and $800 where the use is discretionary.

Businesses that have previously applied for this change of use may also be eligible for reimbursement.

Other grants under the COVID-19 Economic Recovery Program remain open including the Local Marketing Grant and Beautification & Patio Grant.

To date, $83,550 has been awarded to local businesses for the Local Marketing Grant, and $108,484 for the Beautification and Patio Grant. For more information, please visit cityofgp.com/economicrecoveryprogram.