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Friday, March 29, 2013

Omemee BIA Steering Committee -Why You Need to Be Involved! [ Editorial]

Omemee BIA ? Have YOUR Say!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013 Omemee Committee of Council met for the last time at Coronation Hall. Keynote speaker Kay Matthews, Executive Director at the Ontario Business Improvement Area Association, stressed the positive aspects of forming a traditional BIA. A steering committee is being formed to determine whether Omemee should form a BIA. Here are some reasons you may want to get your name into Randy at ACE Hardware before noon March 31  2013 to be on the steering committee.

Does A Traditional BIA Suit Omemee?

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Kay gave many glowing examples of traditional BIA in larger centres.When a very rosy scenario is painted, without any drawbacks presented, it is time to seek out differing opinions. What drawbacks exist in forming a traditional BIA?  Could a non-traditional BIA be a better format for Omemee? If so, what local solutions would we want included? 

 Traditional BIA vs Local Solutions

BIA Takeaways from Meeting and Research

The Ministry of Municipal Housing and Affairs, oversees the legislation governing Busuness Improvement Associations. The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) also works to support rural BIAs through economic development advisors. OMAFRA has a number of programs to assist rural BIAs including the Business Retention and Expansion program (BR+E) and the Rural Economic Development program. In the Business Improvement Area Handbook, it is stressed that a BIA  structure may vary depending on the local municipality, and traditional BIA structure is highlighted. 

Traditional BIA

  • Some BIA choose to pay a Fee to belong to the Ontario BIA.
  • BIA can be formed if 1/3 of commercially-zoned building owners do not object.
  • BIA set an additional tax on all commercially zoned buildings in the BIA through the tax department.
  • In Traditional BIA, voting members only include commercial property owners and their tennants others may pay a fee to belong, but get no vote
  • BIA can put into action regulations regarding numerous permits in a designated BIA area?
  • BIA members chose the boundaries.

Local Challenges to Traditional BIA 

Locally some concerns expressed include
  • Does Omemee have enough commercially zoned properties?
  • Organizations doing the work ie Horticulture, LIONS, Policing Committee, do not have a vote? 
  • Omemee has absentee commercial Landlords or Landlords not willing to get involved in improving the community.
  • Will those excluded from voting  ie. Home Based Businesses,  organizations, take their business elsewhere?

Including A Co-Op As Alternative BIA Structuring

The Ontario BIA Handbook mentions there can be other methods of structuring a BIA.A co-op structure could have its advantages in our rural community, especially in the matter of getting people involved. Many co-ops offer members a choice of work or financial contribution to the co-op, thus commercial property owners could choose to reduce their tax levy through sweat equity, and the sweat equity of organization members could be recognized as vital to the improvement of the BIA. In addition, structuring a BIA requires funds, and there are grants available for the creation of co-ops. However, YOU may have other excellent ideas. Contact Randy at ACE Hardware Omemee, and make sure you are on the steering committee. Connect With Us on Twitter Follow us through Networked Blogs

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