What is a BIA?
The first Business Improvement Area (BIA) was initiated in Ontario in 1969, when a group of business people in Toronto's Bloor West Village area approached the City of Toronto seeking solutions to combat a severe downward trend in the economic climate and physical appearance of their commercial district. The BIA model that emerged here and was successfully used to revitalize the area. Business communities across Canada became aware of the potential power of the BIA model through this exmple and its benefits and the number of BIAs began to grow.
A Business Improvement Area (BIA) is a legislated innovation that allows local business people and commercial property owners and tenants to join together to organize, finance, and carry out improvements, promotional initiatives and economic development programs in their district. A traditional BIA view is that this structure reflects the principle that all who benefit should be required to bear their fair share of the cost of the program.
Once a majority of support is established within the area of the proposed BIA of commercial interests through a municipally organized process, businesses within its boundaries become members and pay the BIA levy along with their property taxes. This levy is collected by the local municipality and given back in its entirety to the BIA to use as their members decide to address the unique concerns of that area. The BIA is managed by a volunteer board made up of annually elected people from the BIA business area through a registered non profit society. The board representatives should be an equal mix of commercial tenants and property owners, should cover the geographic region of the BIA boundaries and should aim to recruit a well balanced representation of skills and expertise that would ultimately benefit the organisations goals and objectives.
In 1988, British Columbia was the eighth province to pass Business Improvement Area (BIA) Legislation.
To date, there are approximately 69 BIAs operating in British Columbia, with more starting every year. BIAs range in size, budget and focus depending on the needs of the community. Although the BIA model initiated in Ontario they are prolific across Canada now and in the United States and are a growing movement internationally.
Why is Lower Lonsdale in the process of starting a BIA?
Lower Lonsdale has enormous potential that is not being realized. Businesses are finding it more and more difficult to thrive in a slow growth economy and property owners and having a tougher time finding the right tenants. The Lower Lonsdale Business Association has been working hard for many years to address all the concerns they understand are important in a healthy vibrant business community. They rely on volunteers who are well known and respected for their dedicated efforts and hours spent at City Hall lobbying for things important for Lower Lonsdale. The revenue from the associations annual memberships is not signifigant and because of this they are limited in the impact they can achieve. They are very successful in raising sponsorship for Lower Lonsdale special events in the range of $175,000 per year but need a sustainable business model to continue to do this and to compete. Other areas are becoming more and more sophisticated in actively promoting their themselves in gaining a larger share of the marketplace. The Lower Lonsdale Business Association strongly believes a BIA is essential in creating a more prosperous business community where both commercial property owners and businesses will benefit.
Lower Lonsdale needs a Champion.
Listen to renowed destination marketing consultant Roger Brooks, from Roger Brooks International on what it takes to suceed in the two video clips below: