City votes to renew BIA

Downtown Business Improvement Association bylaw gets first and second readings; approval from businesses awaits

The city will go ahead with renewing the Downtown Business Improvement Association (BIA) after receiving confirmation that all businesses are on board.

Council gave first and second reading to a bylaw re-establishing the Heart of the City BIA at its Monday night meeting.

As part of the agreement, downtown businesses included in the association will be charged a local service property tax that will increase in each of the next five years.

They will pay $42,586 in 2015, $44,715 in 2016, $46,951 in 2017, $49,299 in 2018 and $51,764 in 2019.

The tax is collected by the city from downtown properties that lie within the BIA boundaries. The funds collected through the tax have helped promote the downtown core through marketing and beautification projects.

The Heart of the City BIA is responsible for events like Starlight Shopping, the Big Truck Parade, and the Easter event in Spirit Square.

In December, the group requested the city renew its bylaw to continue on with such initiatives.

The city complied and served notice in January that it intended to establish another five year term for the BIA unless at least 50 per cent of the affected business owners signed a petition in opposition.

The deadline to do so passed on March 4, with no one coming forward.

“There were no responses received against the initiative,” said City Clerk Peter Wipper. “Therefore I hereby certify that council may now proceed with bylaw 3574 to re-establish the Heart of the City Business Improvement Area for a five year term ending December 31, 2019.”

As part of the agreement, the BIA will pay the city a one-time setup fee of $5 per parcel for each of the 39 business properties involved and an annual administration fee of two per cent of the amount granted, which is $356.80.

The BIA will also be tasked with providing an annual budget to the city as well as financial statements, achievements over the past year and a work plan for the following year.

The Heart of the City BIA typically helps maintain the downtown core by improving, beautifying or maintaining streets, sidewalks, and downtown buildings.

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