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Lethbridge is open for business

With many positive indicators for 2024, Lethbridge City Council and City Administration continue to work for you to help build and maintain a thriving business community in the city.

The message is simple: we are open for business and development.

In 2023, the total construction value in Lethbridge was $287.9 million and there were 1,328 development permits approved.

The average time for development permit approval in Lethbridge in 2023 was six days, which is among the quickest turnaround time of municipalities in Alberta. The days to approve is defined from the time adequate documentation is received from the Development Officer until a decision is issued.

Nearly 31 per cent of permits were approved on the same day, with 32.2 per cent within one to three days, 25.5 per cent within four to 10 days, 6.4 per cent within 11 to 25 days and only five per cent at more than 25 days.

“The turn around on permitted uses like single detached dwellings or changes of use in commercial districts is an exceptional level of service,” says Maureen Gaehring, General Manager of Planning and Design for the City of Lethbridge. “Many of these are approved on the same day which allows applicants to move through to the safety codes permit process or business licensing. The E-Apply system allows applicants to apply for their approvals online 24 hours a day and seven days a week. We have had very positive feedback from builders on how this level of access benefits their clients.”

City Council acknowledges there is always room to improve supports for businesses, whether it’s in the form of access or grant opportunities. In October, Mayor Blaine Hyggen earned support from his Council colleagues for an Official Business Motion on an updated Development Incentive Program.

Council has directed the City Manager to draft a report for the Economic Standing Policy Committee to consider, by Q3 2024, that includes a program with a comprehensive, fair, consistent, and broad approach of all incentives for new development or businesses, as well as revitalization, redevelopment or expansion of existing development or businesses in Lethbridge, designed to provide a long-term benefit to the community by creating economic stimulus and support investment.

“Council is committed to encouraging and attracting new development and businesses, including new construction, business revitalization, redevelopment or expansion, to Lethbridge to promote investment for the general benefit of the municipality,” says Hyggen. “The Municipal Government Act also permits municipalities to pass a bylaw deferring or exempting non-residential property from taxation for the purpose of development or revitalization of properties or for the general benefit of the municipality, which is something we could explore further.”

There are three components to a business getting up and running:

  • Development approval for the proposed location
  • Safety Codes approvals – building, plumbing and gas and electrical permits (as required)
  • Business License issuance from Regulatory Services

The City of Lethbridge offers a variety of grants, incentives and financial supports for organization initiatives that are providing social and economic benefit to the community, such as facility development and redevelopment and event planning. They include:

Economic Development Lethbridge (EDL), the Lethbridge Chamber of Commerce and the Downtown Lethbridge Business Revitalization Zone (BRZ) recently released the 2023 Brighter Together Survey showcasing the top locational strengths and challenges expressed by businesses.

Optimism among local businesses and organizations remains high, as two-thirds of respondents expressed a favourable outlook for the next six to 12 months.

“Our utility costs for water, sewer, garbage collection and recycling are among the lowest in Alberta, while our commercial electricity rates are competitive with most other municipalities in the province,” says Hyggen. “Our municipal property tax per capita is in the middle of the pack among Alberta municipalities. It is slightly higher than Calgary and Red Deer and it is slightly lower than St. Albert and Edmonton.”

Other positive signs and ongoing projects for Lethbridge:

  • As of October 2023, the BRZ says there were also 23 businesses that either opened or expanded operations during 2023 in Downtown Lethbridge
  • As one step towards increased red tape reduction, there is an ongoing complete review and renewal project for the City’s Land Use Bylaw. More information at Get Involved Lethbridge here
  • January 2024 is already off to a strong start with $227,000 collected in building permit revenue

Whether it is Residential, Commercial or Industrial - you will find information on land development processes, planning, urban construction, development approvals and permits available here. More information on building and renovating can be found here.

Those interested can also apply and pay for permits anytime with the City's secure online digital application system, eApply. Permit applications can be completed from home or office and it has never been simpler, faster or more convenient.

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