THUNDER BAY – The city’s lone remaining south side business improvement area could be in jeopardy.
The Victoria Avenue BIA has not held a meeting since August. The BIA boundaries capture most of the downtown south core.
Thunder Bay city council voted on Wednesday night to hold the board’s funding that is included in this year’s proposed municipal budget in abeyance, giving the board an April deadline to establish a board and submit a budget or the money will be reallocated to the city’s stabilization reserve fund.
Coun. Shelby Ch’ng said she and Coun. Aldo Ruberto had been the only two board members left at the term.
"It's really important that if the BIA is to exist that the members of the BIA show up to make quorum at the meetings," Ch'ng said. "If we don't have quorum, we can't put forward the board members. If we can't put foward the board members, we can't spend the funds."
"It's really unfair to the people who put the time in to always be putting the time in when the members don't show up. If they really want this money and they want the flowers, the lights and the parties, they need to show up and have quorum."
The proposed allocation to the Victoria Avenue BIA, which is based on last year’s funding, includes money for a façade improvement program, maintenance, the eye in the sky program and membership engagement and promotion.
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.
Council voted last year to dissolve the Simpson Street BIA after years of diminishing interest from business owners within the area and the inability to meet board activity requirements.
City clerk John Hannam said the city could decide to take steps to lead towards dissolution if the BIA can't form a board.
"If there isn't a gathering of the members that achieves quorum, we'll give them a timeline. It will be somewhat arbitary but it will be a generous timeline for them to organize and get themselves operating," Hannam said. "Hopefully the members will respond and demonstrate they want to see the BIA survive."