BIA gets by counter petition

Sidney council has final say on future of business improvement area bylaw

Another hurdle down — one more barrier to cross.

A proposed business improvement area (BIA) for businesses in downtown Sidney is a step closer to reality, as an alternate approvals process failed to garner enough opposition to thwart the idea.

Town of Sidney chief administrative officer Randy Humble reported this week that the counter-petition did not hit the 50 per cent threshold of opposition that would have stopped the BIA in its tracks. With only 29.9 per cent of business property owners — representing 38.8 per cent of downtown commercial assessed value — stating they were opposed to a BIA, the measure passes.

Now, the proposal faces town council.

On Monday, March 11, Sidney politicians have the final say on whether the BIA will proceed. Or at least, they will start the debate over how each will vote on the proposal. In moving the BIA to the town’s alternate approval process in January, most of council was supportive, with those inclined to be on the fence noting that they would let it fall to business owners to have the final say on the initiative.

A BIA in Sidney will set into motion a new entity, consisting of a group of business property owners and a levy charged ($1.22 per $1,000 of assessed value) to each commercial operation. That will raise an estimated $250,000, to be spent on local marketing initiatives to help bring more customers and visitors into the downtown core.

Angus Matthews, a member of the Sidney Business Development Group that brought the BIA to the community and to town council, said the result is good news.

“That’ the property owners making that decision,” he said. “Now, (pending council’s vote March 11) it’s time for all sectors of the community to come together and create Sidney’s story and how to market that.”

Matthews, who is the executive director of the Shaw Ocean Discovery Centre, said recent marketing such as Family Day in Sidney and last weekend’s Tourist in your own Town promotion, are evidence of what such efforts can do for the community. Those events saw thousands of visitors and locals on the streets, taking in events and attractions in typical tourist down-time.

Matthews said promoting Sidney is not a business thing.

“It’s about the story of the community,” he explained, “and will require resident involvement and how we want to share our community pride.”

By the Numbers

Town of Sidney CAO Randy Humble said the BIA alternate approval process was sent to 321 commercial properties in the downtown core, identified in the proposal as those businesses included in the BIA boundary.

• The alternate approval process was open for 30 days and ended March 1.

• 96, or 29.9 per cent, registered their opposition to the BIA.

• Those 96 property owners represent 38.8 per cent of commercial property values in the BIA boundary.

• 50 per cent was the property and value threshold owners were required to meet if the BIA proposal were to fail.

• March 11 is when town council will debate and/or vote to proceed with Bylaw 2045, to create a downtown business improvement area.