THUNDER BAY – The Simpson Street BIA is officially out of business.
Thunder Bay city council on Monday night voted to dissolve the south side business improvement area after years of evaporating interest from the neighbourhood’s business owners.
The city stopped collecting levies in 2016 from the BIA’s businesses after it became apparent it had no active board participation and could not meet the six-member requirement.
Deputy city clerk Krista Power told council there was no stated interest from the businesses in the area to continue.
“We did most certainly do a very thorough contact and communication not only with the active members of the BIA but also letters were sent to every member of the BIA back in 2016 trying to see whether or not we could revive the BIA,” Power said.
“We asked at that time for property owners to advise whether or not they were willing to continue or willing to come forward and be an active part of the BIA. We received one response and that was no, they were not.”
Coun. Rebecca Johnson asked whether there was potential to merge the city’s two south side business improvement areas.
“There was some discussion two, three, four years ago regarding looking at amalgamating the two areas – Victoria Avenue BIA as well as the Simpson Street. Nothing has ever come out of that?” Johnson asked.
Power replied it would be difficult to amalgamate when the Simpson Street BIA didn’t have a functional board.
Business improvement areas are a collection of business people and commercial property owners within a geographic boundary who join to enhance economic development and pursue physical improvements within the area. They collect a levy from individual members and partner with the city to receive municipal funding.
Without a formal BIA businesses won’t be able to receive funding for initiatives like a façade program that is operated in other areas, Power said.
“This report provides for essential services that we have worked with administration to determine what would need to continue,” Power said.
“But no further improvements would take place until at some point whether or not a new BIA was formed or there was an opportunity for other BIAs to then incorporate this amount of property owners and those folks become part of another BIA. There would be no further improvements, there would be no further levy.”
Those essential services are annual maintenance of tree grates, maintenance of planters, lighting the tunnel walkway connecting McTavish Street to Simpson Street, the Eye on the Street program and landscaping at Charry’s Corner Parkette.