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Stampede, Folk Fest, patio plans coming together for Calgary

Click to play video: 'Calgary Stampede and Folk Fest yet to announce 2021 event plans' Calgary Stampede and Folk Fest yet to announce 2021 event plans
WATCH: After Premier Jason Kenney announced he believes the 2021 Calgary Stampede will take place, Matthew Conrod has a look at what it and other festivals in Alberta may look like this summer – Apr 12, 2021

With more COVID-19 vaccine jabs going in arms in Calgary, some summer event mainstays could also be coming back, in a modified manner.

Last year, the Calgary Stampede was marked with socially-distanced fireworks, drive through pancake breakfasts and a food truck rally.

The mayor, who sits on the Stampede board, said he expects there will be more this year.

Read more: Calgary Stampede 2021 still in the works as other summer events cancelled

“I assume it will look a little more like a normal Stampede,” Naheed Nenshi said Monday. “But all of this depends on the spread of the variants, on our thoughts about safety — outdoors versus indoors — and what is possible to do so.”

The Calgary Folk Music Festival said it has been conducting ongoing conversations with the city and province about the “ever-changing COVID-19 situation.”

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“We remain cautiously optimistic and adaptable, so are in the process of planning ways to safely bring live music back, in a very modified way, to Prince’s Island Park this summer,” festival artistic director Kerry Clark said in a statement to Global News. “We’ll share updates as we have them.”

Read more: Edmonton Folk Fest will not take place this summer

Nenshi said he wished he could say more about the plans for Stampede that are still in development.

“I know that we’ll have an opportunity to celebrate something, but the Stampede board and I are very concerned about doing so in the safest possible way and that will always be our primary consideration.”

Patio relief

Some temporary patios throughout the city have already opened, following the public health order to close all indoor dining Friday past.

More patios could be opening with the City of Calgary extending fee relief for some city permits following a council decision on Monday.

A table showing which permit fees have been waived by the City of Calgary. handout / City of Calgary

Most of the permits would allow businesses to operate in a COVID-safe manner, including outdoor cafe development permits, building permits for patio extensions or inner partitions. Other permits include change of use development permits and pre-applications to the city’s Corporate Planning Applications Group.

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Read more: Local artist maps Calgary Stampede history through a First Nations lens

Added to the latest tranche of waived fees are special function tents, like those found throughout the core during Stampede.

The fee relief for the remainder of this year will cost the city $1 million and $12 million in fees will be deferred, Randel Madell, the city’s manager of service performance in planning and development, told city council Monday morning.

Click to play video: 'Calgary waives patio fees for 2nd year of COVID-19 pandemic' Calgary waives patio fees for 2nd year of COVID-19 pandemic
Calgary waives patio fees for 2nd year of COVID-19 pandemic – Mar 2, 2021

That brings the total waived fees since May 2020 to an estimated $3.5 million and $24 million in deferred fees.

“Administration has monitored fee relief usage and adjusted to ensure the needs of customers and businesses are being met,” Madell said. “Tracking and analyzing the usage of various relief measures and based on feedback from stakeholders, we’ve identified areas where extending support can be most impactful.”

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Read more: City council to decide on Calgary’s greater downtown plan after vacancy hits 32%

Council voted unanimously to extend the fee relief through the end of 2021.

Stuart Dalgliesh, general manager of planning and development, said the permits are directly related to “the types of business activities that are important during the course of the pandemic and our best assessment of the customers to which we can provide relief within the scope of the work that we do.”

Read more: Alberta restaurants close to in-person dining as COVID-19 restrictions take effect

Outdoor cafe permits exploded by 262 per cent in 10 months of relief compared to the previous year.

Nenshi said extending the fee relief was “the right thing to do.”

A temporary patio along Calgary’s Stephen Avenue, pictured on April 12, 2021. Devon Simmons / Global News

“We’ve been burning through our savings pretty quickly in trying to help people through COVID, but thank goodness we have the savings,” Nenshi said. “I always say that we are the rare government that is the ant in the tail of the ant and the grasshopper — we set aside money when things were good so we’d have the ability to use it when things are bad.”

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Read more: Calgary businesses have struggled during COVID-19 pandemic but remain optimistic: poll

Ward 1 Councillor. Ward Sutherland mentioned that Calgary is getting national attention with the fee relief.

“We are actually becoming the gold standard for other cities across Canada, of the steps we’re taking as a council to do fee relief for small businesses, etc., that no other city is doing in Canada,” Sutherland told council. “We need to continue this.

Click to play video: 'COVID-19 restrictions now in effect for Calgary businesses' COVID-19 restrictions now in effect for Calgary businesses
COVID-19 restrictions now in effect for Calgary businesses – Apr 9, 2021

“As we said, our goal is to do business better. This is just another example of taking every single step we can as a council to help all businesses possible.”

Tuesday, council is expected to discuss methods to assist people and businesses who won’t be able to pay their property taxes by June 30, 2021. In 2020, council approved an extension of the deadline to the end of September and halved the seven per cent late fee that was due on October 1.

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