Sidney BIA to expand board of directors

Fledgling marketing group continues to face its critics

Outspoken opposition to the new business improvement area (BIA) in Sidney forced the chairman of the BIA to address concerns before town council recently.

Cliff McNeil-Smith says the BIA in Sidney is still in start-up mode and has issued letters to all commercial property and business owners in the downtown core covered by the new program. This, he said, is an invitation to register as regular members in the BIA. It’s a formal process and he noted no one would be excluded.

“It will enable them to be part of the approval of the budget and to elect the board,” McNeil-Smith said.

Two speakers at town council on April 8 expressed concern about the use of their fees being funnelled through the municipality to the BIA. Rosemarie Bongers, owner of Avalon Spa, said the BIA posed a hardship on some businesses, amounting to yet another tax that some cannot afford in what amounts to a recession.

“Some businesses face $5,000 a month in lease payments and cost keep going up,” she said. “It’s a bad time to start a BIA.”

She encouraged the town to reduce commercial taxes to allow business property owners to fix up their buildings.

Bongers also spoke about how the BIA will run, misinformation that McNeil-Smith addressed in a rebuttal at council. He said each business owner and each property owner will get a single vote on the BIA board, should they decide to register as members. Should a property owner also own the business, they will get only one vote. Bongers said it would be more fair if there were two votes.

Restaurant and commercial property owner Chris Sdrakas said he hopes the BIA board spends the money wisely, figuring the BIA levy will cost him around $3,000 for his three properties. He said he hopes the BIA will work in increasing local business, but is concerned that it won’t.

Both speakers also said they dislike the counter-petition process.

McNeil-Smith said the existing board of the BIA will get it off the ground and will expand the board to 11 members at their planned annual general meeting on May 15, 7 p.m. at the Mary Winspear Centre.

To give the board an idea of people’s expectations and how to better market the community to the region, McNeil-Smith said there’s a survey online at sidneybiz.com. He said people are encouraged to take the survey, which will help inform the board of ideas and possible direction of the BIA.

“That information will come to the special open meeting of the board in May,” he said.

The BIA is also planning on meeting within three weeks with between 15 and 20 stakeholders in the community. McNeil-Smith extended an invitation to mayor and council as well as town staff. A date for that meeting had not yet been set.

Council backs the BIA

Sidney town councillor Marilyn Loveless said the BIA may cost money, but it will be used to benefit the town at large.

Councillors addressed some of the concerns of speakers at their April 8 meeting who are worried the new BIA is nothing more than an added tax on local business. Loveless said she wanted to ensure people that their worries have been heard, but hopes people will give it a chance.

“It is a method of dealing with tough economic times,” she said, adding she hopes people won’t become so entrenched that they cannot give it the benefit of the doubt.

“We’ve laboured over this decision (to pass a BIA bylaw),” added Coun. Steve Price, encouraging people to get involved to ensure they know where their fees are going.

“Council lobbied for a BIA for a long time,” added Coun. Lougher-Goodey, suggesting people with concerns need to get involved with the BIA and help direct its destiny.

 

Just Posted

MLA invites community to weigh in on transportation issues in Sidney

Adam Olsen invites Peninsula residents to share questions, concerns at Nov. 24 gathering

Local leaders of all ages honoured at National Philanthropy Day event

Awards in six categories given to Victoria residents who are leaders in giving back

Get your pet on the jumbotron at this weekend’s Royals game

Victoria Royals host the Regina Pats Saturday night 7:05 p.m.

‘Toxic’ chosen as the Word of the Year by Oxford Dictionaries

Other top contenders for 2018 include ‘gaslighting’ and ‘techlash’

Unique technology gives children with special needs more independent play

UVic’s CanAssist refined seven prototypes aided by $1.5M government contribution

Greater Victoria holiday craft fair roundup for Nov. 16 to 18

Check off all of the items on your shopping list at these great events

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Nov. 14

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

RCMP bust illegal B.C. cannabis lab

Marijuana may be legal but altering it using chemicals violates the Cannabis Act

Canada defeats Germany 29-10 in repechage, moves step closer to Rugby World Cup

Hong Kong needs a bonus-point win over Canada — scoring four or more tries — while denying the Canadians a bonus point

Avalanche Canada in desperate need of funding

The organization provides avalanche forecasting for an area larger than the United Kingdom

B.C. teacher’s Amazing Race takes students on Canada-wide adventure

Agassiz high school students say they had the experience of a life time

Don’t sign USMCA until LGBTQ language excised, U.S. lawmakers urge Trump

The trade agreement, forged after 13 months of tense negotiations between Canada and the U.S. is scheduled for Nov. 30

US official: US intel says prince ordered Khashoggi killing

Vice-President Mike Pence told reporters that ‘the murder of Jamal Khashoggi was an atrocity.’

Most Read