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City launches first centre to help small business owners

February 2 2017 Commercial Renovation Centre responds to business community’s needs

"I’m confident this new Centre will have a positive impact on growing local small business by providing valuable, hands-on support to get new enterprises up and running as quickly and seamlessly as possible.”, says Mayor Gregor Robertson

The doors of City Hall in Vancouver

In response to needs identified by the business community, the City of Vancouver has officially launched a small business Commercial Renovation Centre which will provide much-needed assistance to Vancouver enterpreneurs.

The Centre aims to help new business owners navigate the process for licensing a small business or renovating a commercial tenant space by providing hands-on support related to regulations, permits and procedures.

“The Commercial Renovation Centre is one of many improvements the City is making to improve service and streamline permitting and licensing processes,” says Mayor Gregor Robertson. “Small business is the backbone to Vancouver’s local economy, fostering local entrepreneurship and creating jobs. With 60 per cent of local small businesses having less than five employees, I’m confident this new Centre will have a positive impact on growing local small business by providing valuable, hands-on support to get new enterprises up and running as quickly and seamlessly as possible.”

Small businesses make up 95 per cent of all businesses in Vancouver and are an important driver of the city’s economy. Nearly 60 per cent of Vancouver enterprises have fewer than five employees.

"As a non-profit organization, Open Door Group is excited to have recently become a property owner. Navigating the renovation and permitting process is an unfamiliar area for us,” says Alona Puehse, Executive Director Corporate Development of Open Door Group. “The hands-on, responsive service provided by the City's Commercial Renovation Centre has moved us closer to seeing our new space open, allowing us to focus on expanding accessible employment services in the Downtown Eastside community."

The Centre will provide entrepreneurs with a single point of contact for information, including:

  • access to knowledgeable staff who can provide clear direction around regulations, permits, licensing, and process;
  • timely assessment of project viability;
  • ongoing support from permitting and construction through to occupancy and Business License issuance.

Launched as a pilot program in October 2016, the focus of the Centre was novice business owners with fewer than five employees. During the pilot phase the Centre worked with 35 businesses. Enterprises which will be helped by this initiative include small schools and fitness centres, coffee shops, restaurants, small performing art spaces and other businesses.

“It can be difficult for entrepreneurs and small businesses to know where to begin when starting a new venture or undertaking a space renovation. The Commercial Renovation Centre will be a great one-stop-shop for business owners to get direct support from the City in answering questions and navigating permits and licensing processes,” said Charles Gauthier, CEO and President of the Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Association. “We are happy to see the City strengthen its services for small businesses and we look forward to continuing our partnership to encourage and support local business in Vancouver.”

To further support non-profit arts and culture organizations looking to renovate, construct or adapt a space the City offers a grant to help pay for development or building-permit fees. The Permit Fee Assistance Program is a grant stream that can provide up to $1,500 towards fee costs for a cultural space project. Funding is offered on a first-come, first-served basis, until the annual $10,000 budget is spent.

Learn about eligibility on the Permit Fee Assistance Program and how to apply

Small businesses are welcome to provide feedback on additional services or support they would like to see the Commercial Renovation Centre provide, and they are also encouraged to provide feedback on their experience. Email crc@vancouver.ca.

Learn more about the Commercial Renovation Centre or visit the Building and Development Services Centre at 515 West 10th Avenue and ask for a referral.