Nanaimo’s downtown core has the green light to create a new business improvement association.
At its meeting Monday, Nanaimo city council voted unanimously to adopt a downtown Nanaimo business improvement area bylaw after Sheila Gurrie, city clerk and director of legislative services, presented the results of a petition-against process that tallied property owners’ preference for or against establishing a new BIA.
Of the 138 land parcels within the BIA boundaries, 30 property owners – or about 22 per cent of property owners addressed by the petition – who own about 8.5 per cent of the total value of properties downtown replied that they were against forming a new BIA.
Kim Smythe, Greater Nanaimo Chamber of Commerce CEO, said the numbers for and against were roughly what he expected and he and downtown business owners are excited to have a new BIA to help “get downtown back on its feet.”
“They pretty much were in line with what I was thinking,” he said. “I had some confidence because some of the larger property owners really understand the value of a BIA.”
Now that the bylaw has passed establishing a BIA for five years, Smythe said the first orders of business will be to get the BIA organizers together to create a board of directors and engage with property owners and merchants downtown.
“Then it will be agreeing that the next steps are to create a strategic plan for the organization, with a couple of mile posts dug in there over the five-year term, and then to appoint a group to come up with a five-year business plan and prioritize how to do what the strategic plan tells you you want to do,” Smythe said.
He said all of this will have to fall together rapidly and he’s prepared to take the lead on a number of tasks until the organization gets up and running because the people involved all have day-to-day businesses to run.
“That was the commitment I made earlier, that the chamber would continue to lead the way and to pick up the work that has to be done,” he said.
Smythe said he hopes to start holding meetings, starting Tuesday, April 27, followed by a second meeting in May to start building the organization and to engage with all of the downtown stakeholders.
“I’m certainly glad to see this happen, I must say, and I think I speak on behalf of council for the public record that this is an important decision in support of the downtown,” said Nanaimo Mayor Leonard Krog at Monday’s meeting. “I’m glad to see the owners and businesses in the downtown area pulling together on this … It’s a very positive step forward.”
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