The Lower Lonsdale Business Improvement Association has won a fresh eight-year mandate.
City of North Vancouver council voted unanimously Monday night (Dec. 13) to extend the once-controversial local business booster body after a petition among commercial property owners found broad support.
Once a BIA is established, council adds a special levy onto commercial tax bills within the area, which is then used for marketing, beautification projects and community events chosen by a board of directors.
In 2020, the BIA collected $500,000 from 389 commercial properties, which works out to approximately six cents per $1,000 of assessed value.
For council, there was little question that BIA members were getting value for their money.
“I've indicated previously I think that the Lower Lonsdale Business Improvement Association has done an excellent job in helping to revitalize Lower Lonsdale. They provide excellent service to the businesses in that area and I would like to be able to see them continue,” said Coun. Don Bell.
Under provincial law, council must give commercial property owners the ability to stop the establishment of a BIA if more than half of the owners representing more than half of the assessed property value within the BIA’s area register their opposition. That processed wrapped at the end of November with only 7.75 per cent opposed. When council used the same process to establish the BIA in 2016, 31 per cent of the area’s property owners petitioned against it.
Mayor Linda Buchanan, an early supporter of the BIA, reflected on the controversies of the past.
“It did take several attempts to get through council. I know some who sit here tonight were not too favorable with the provincial process, initially, but I’m glad to see that everyone's in support of it now,” she said. “It's one of those things where sometimes you have to try it and you have to be able to see the impact that it's had.”
Coun. Holly Back said she was so impressed with the BIA and the work of executive director Greg Holmes that she’d like to see a new BIA set up in Central Lonsdale.
Following the meeting Holmes said he was humbled by the fresh mandate, adding it will allow the BIA to get to work on some longer-term beautification projects.
“There's a number of big plans we still have for the community and that provides that financial certainty,” he said.
Nothing has been committed to yet, but Holmes said he’d like to see the tree lighting program expanded to side streets along Lonsdale. He’s also been in touch with artists and folks from the Vancouver Mural Festival “because we've got a number of blank walls that could look beautiful.”
Earlier this year, Holmes took some of the first street banners put up by the BIA and had them fashioned into a bespoke suit.
“That was our first introduction of the Shipyards District to the community. That was the very first thing we did,” he said. “It’s got some symbolism there.”
Holmes said the streets north of Esplanade will also take on more of a focus in the years ahead.
“The Shipyards itself is doing fine. We need to make sure that the businesses right up to Fourth Avenue feel part of this success,” he said.