Calgary city council to look at streamlining process for pop-up, interim businesses

One of a number of for lease signs in Calgary's downtown core. Global News

A Calgary planning and urban development committee is recommending a way to make it easier for so-called “pop-up” and interim businesses to get off the ground.

The hope is to stimulate economic activity and reduce vacancy rates.

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A “pop-up” is a business that sets up shop for a short time to sell or promote a product.

Interim use is where a business will set up in a space temporarily to sell seasonal products or gauge demand for its services.

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“We do feel that there is an openness and a willingness to start looking at new uses, new opportunities to actually get businesses in front of customers,” Deana Haley, with Calgary Economic Development, said Wednesday. “Get [businesses] in the space to animate it, to bring vibrancy.
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“Nobody wants to see a dark street. Nobody wants to see a dark building.”

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The recommendations come from city administration looking for ways to improve the vibrancy of the city centre and help alleviate historically-high commercial vacancy rates.

Currently, pop-up and interim business have to get the same approvals required for a permanent business, a process that can take between three to six months.

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The planning and urban development committee is recommending that flexibility be given to allow the pop-up and interim businesses to operate without a development permit, building permit and a business license.

A pop-up would be allowed to operate for four consecutive days and a maximum of 50 days per calendar year. Interim uses can occupy a vacant space for up to six months.

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“Successful shopping centres are ones that are occupied and are occupied and provide a full range of customer experiences,” Bernie Bayer, senior partner with Taurus Property Group, told city committee Wednesday.

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“If you start to lose momentum in your shopping centres through vacancies and dark spaces, it becomes a bit of a slippery slope in terms of the future of that asset.”

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Pop-up and interim uses could include specialty food stores, indoor rec centres and retail and consumer services. Office use could also fall under these classifications, but restaurants and night clubs were not part of the recommended changes.

Calgary city council will look at the committee’s recommendations on May 27.

–with files from Adam Toy

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