Business Improvement Areas (BIAs) are benevolent associations: they only do good things for your city, town or business district.
Business Improvement Areas of British Columbia (BIABC) is pleased to provide assistance and guidance to business groups interested in forming a BIA with FREE outreach services to areas interested in developing a BIA.
We strongly recommend obtaining information and advice from BIABC before canvassing local business people or your municipal Council.
How does a BIA happen?
The initiative for establishing a BIA program starts at the sidewalk. The best BIAs come directly from the passion and will of a few local business owners, and from there the idea grows organically and exponentially - the more business owners are engaged in this common goal. With stakeholder support on your side, this business group can apply to their city or municipal Council to have the area designated as a Business Improvement Area (BIA).
A common pitfall is insufficient knowledge about the BIA concept to adequately describe it to others.
Please contact BIABC and we can give you an overview.
Three Steps to Start A BIA:
1. Meetings! Meetings! Meetings! You must hold meetings with business owners in your proposed BIA zone to get a feel for the general support for a new Business Association. One meeting isn’t enough. Hold as many of them as you can – large formal groups to small coffee shop klatches - so you can get as much feedback and consensus on your plans as you can. You’ll need to make a clear, concise case for such an important organization in your city, and be should be able to detail the concept of what a BIA, why it is needed, what the benefits will be and how it will be funded in your town. BIABC is always happy to recommend speakers that could present and explain details and provide examples.
2. If the idea of a BIA is generally supported by your potential members at these meetings, a proposed budget and boundaries should be drafted, and support secured from landlords and businesses in this potential business improvement zone. It’s also beneficial to keep your municipal council informed of the progress of BIA discussions. BIABC could provide guidance as well may share a list of consultants should your area want to explore that option.
3. When assured of majority support from your property and business owners, BIA organizers should send a letter to City Hall formally requesting BIA designation. This will initiate a formal process for BIA approval and designation.
On behalf of your BIA, Council will collect a special levy on all commercial properties within the proposed boundary and return this money to the new BIA to operate and initiate their neighbourhood plans.
REMEMBER: Absolutely NO money to operate any BIA in BC comes from its town’s residents or from the city coffers. The operation of a BIA is fully and 100% supported ONLY by funds collected directly through the agreement of its commercial property owners.
You can find out more about the best practices in starting a BIA in the BIABC's Handbook in our 'resources' section of this website. It is a FREE electronic publication for all BIABC members.