Ward 4 Councillor Sam Merulla issued a press release calling on businesses on Kenilworth Avenue North to initiate a Business Improvement Area (BIA). Noting several new businesses opening in Ward 4 over the past few years, including the Loews on Barton, the conversion of Centre Mall into a big box complex, and the revitalization of Ottawa Street North, Merulla pointed out that Kenilworth has missed out on this new investment.
He is asking Kenilworth businesses to start a BIA voluntarily but adds, "If this voluntary endeavour fails I will then simply impose the BIA on Kenilworth Ave North in an attempt to carry on with the incredible momentum we in Ward 4 are experiencing."
This provoked a response from Ward 2 Councillor Bob Bratina, who replied, "It is not possible under the legislation to order the creation of a BIA."
Merulla countered that he believes it is possible, based on his research.
According to the Ontario Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing (MMAH), a BIA "allows local business people and property owners to join together and with the support of the municipality, to organize, finance and carry out physical improvement and promote economic development in their district. The local municipality is the body that is responsible for approving the budget of the BIA."
The MMAH publishes a Business Improvement Area Handbook that explains the legalities of starting and running a BIA. The section on the role of the municipal council reads, "Initial interest and effort must come from local business leaders. However, council and municipal staff can play a significant role in helping a BIA to get off the ground by providing a venue for local business leaders to get together to discuss possible strategies for revitalizing their local community. [emphasis added]"
However, in the section on starting a BIA, the Handbook reads, "It is a municipal bylaw that formally creates a BIA. Prior to the passing of this bylaw, the municipality must issue a notice of intention to pass the bylaw to property owners in the affected area designated as industrial or commercial."
If at least one-third of the business owners in the area object to the proposed BIA and they are responsible for at least one-third of the commercial/industrial tax levy for the area, the municipality cannot pass a bylaw establishing it.
You must be logged in to comment.