Willing to support BIA

In previous years, I have heard the idea of a business improvement area (BIA) being discussed and I was against it

I attended one of the Sidney Business Development Group’s presentations at the Sidney Hotel.

In previous years, I have heard the idea of a business improvement area (BIA) being discussed and I was against it primarily because I could see no direct benefits for my business. We are an accounting firm, not merchants, so in increase in tourist or Victoria-based foot traffic would not bring us any more business.

However, I have a different perspective now.

Over the past four of five years, I have seen a gradual decline in business for many of my existing clients and a number of newly-established clients have gone out of business.

My bad debt experience used to be maybe $500 a year and now it is closer to $10,000.

I have seen developments such as ones in Chemainus and Gastown and I assume that these were the result of concerted efforts by a BIA or similar organization. I would be interested in hearing about success stories, as well as failures, where this has been tried elsewhere.

I have seen Sidney develop more of a seaside and pedestrian-friendly theme over the years, with park benches, underground Hydro, a one-way street on Beacon Avenue, the seafront walkway and the street lights fixtures. I also remember what a struggle it was to implement this — many of the ideas came from mayors like Marie Rosko and Don Amos.

Yet, the merchants were deeply divided about issues such as the potential loss of parking on a one-way street.

I think this has been a great first step.

I can see an advantage of driving this forward through a BIA because it has no vested interest in the outcome, is completely  non-political and it can cheerfully steal great ideas from other municipalities without being accused of plagiarism.

It needs to have real focus, as our politicians have to be concerned about a myriad of other issues such as sewers and street repairs.

Our merchants are more concerned about covering their next payroll.

This project is all about making Sidney as a whole a great place to visit and shop and dine out.

It would be nice to see a similar initiative for Brentwood — they have taken some first steps by installing crosswalks and widening pavements but there is no real sense of a central theme.

I do understand that this could potentially cost my firm around $750 a year but I would be willing to give it a try for three years to see what evolves.

I would also be interested in participating in the ongoing discussions.

Chris Cowland

Sidney

Just Posted

Sidney has highest walk-in clinic wait times in the country: report

Several Vancouver Island facilities wait times notably poor

Mainly cloudy, showers later on ahead for Wednesday

Plus a look ahead at the weekend’s forecast

Victoria shuttle service aims to use cruise ship waste as fuel

Pacific Northwest Transportation Services wants to have a zero emission fleet by 2026

Search underway as Our Place Society CEO Don Evans resigns

‘It’s time for me to takea break to recharge my batteries’

VIDEO: Harbour Air makes history with first electric aircraft test flight

Successful flight marks first of its kind in the world

Greater Victoria wanted list for the week of Dec. 10

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

POLL: Do you have a real or artificial Christmas tree?

The lights are up, holiday shoppers are bustling through the streets and… Continue reading

Tavares scores twice as Maple Leafs earn 4-1 win over Canucks

Vancouver sees two-game win streak snapped

UPDATED: No survivors in Gabriola Island plane crash: RCMP

Coroner confirms multiple fatalities after small plane goes down Tuesday night near Nanaimo

The Grinch who Stole a Hedge: Security camera captures Chilliwack tree theft

RCMP arrives as person calmly walks away with tree in downtown area

The Russell Troupe finds a comfort zone in small Island community

Family gathering with two parents and five kids a common scene around Chemainus

Salmonella outbreak in Canada linked to rodents and snakes

92 cases of salmonella across six provinces, including B.C.

Meng Wanzhou wins right to more documents involving arrest at Vancouver airport

Defence lawyers allege the Huawei executive was unlawfully detained, searched and interrogated

Most Read