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Speak up or face LoLo BIA levy

City allows LLBA to use counter-petition to set up a BIA
lonsdale quay
Lonsdale Quay Market's businesses are among the hundreds that could be forced into a business improvement area in Lower Lonsdale.

Businesses in the Lower Lonsdale area that don't want to be forced to join and pay for a new business improvement area need to speak now or forever hold their peace.

After failing to gather enough support from businesses individually, the Lower Lonsdale Business Association was successful in their Dec. 2 bid to persuade City of North Vancouver council to allow a counter-petition.

Under provincial legislation, BIAs can use their local government to collect a mandatory levy from all businesses in their area if more than 50 per cent of business owners sign a petition. But the LLBA has been having a hard time connecting with the more than 600 business operators plus 150 commercial property owners in order to meet the threshold.

Now, under a counterpetition likely to start in the new year, the BIA will get automatic approval unless 50 per cent plus one of the 150 commercial property owners voice opposition. The same method has been used to set up all 70 of the province's BIAs.

At 89 cents per $1,000 of assessed value for its levy, the BIA would collect about $385,000, which would then be used to market Lower Lonsdale and finance improvements approved by the BIA's members.

However, opponents on council charged that it would be undemocratic to force businesses to join without a clear mandate for approval.

"If they can't sell it in Lower Lonsdale, I'll be damned if I'm going to say you can do it by this negative petition. It's simply wrong. It's undemocratic," said Coun. Rod Clark.

But a slim majority on council disagreed.

"I think it is democratic because if the opposition does get off their derrière and decides they don't like it, they can overturn it. I'm always going to be on the side of the engaged," said Coun. Guy Heywood.