City elects to renew BIA

Downtown businesses opposed to local service tax have until Mar. 4 to notify city

The city has served notice that it intends to renew the downtown business group that puts on annual events such as Starlight Shopping and the Big Truck Parade.

Any downtown business owners opposed to the renewal of the Heart of the City Business Improvement Area (BIA) have until March 4 at 4:30 p.m. to notify the city.

City council will proceed with establishing another five year term for the BIA unless at least 50 per cent of the owners, who will be subject to a local service tax under the BIA, sign a petition in opposition. Those who sign a petition must also own property that in total, represents at least 50 per cent of the assessed value of land that would be subject to the tax.

This tax has been collected by the city from downtown businesses who lie within the BIA boundaries.“The funds raised through the local service tax have enabled the (BIA) to promote the downtown core through marketing and beautification projects,” according to a release on the city’s website. The Heart of the City BIA is proposing a budget of $42,586 for 2015, with a seven per cent tax increase for businesses in the first year and a five per cent annual increase each year after that. For 2015, businesses within the BIA would pay a tax rate of approximately $2.25 per $1,000 of their building’s assessed value.

The bylaw that established the Heart of the City BIA expired on Dec. 31 and the society requested last month that the city renew its contract.

John Wheat, chair of the BIA, said the group wants to continue on with its initiatives to make the downtown a welcoming place to be.

“The Heart of the City BIA has continued to help create a growing, inviting, safe place to be when in the downtown core,” Wheat wrote in a letter to council. “Our wish is to continue on.”Since its inception, the Heart of the City BIA has worked to beautify the downtown core, lobbied for improved street lighting, carried out events and activities like the Big Truck Parade and Starlight Shopping during the holidays, the annual Easter event in Spirit Square, and the Pumpkin Walk.

The BIA has also provided financial support for Canada Day, River City Arts Fest, the Angel Tree, and the Tuesday lunch entertainment in Spirit Square during the summer.