Ottawa’s Business Improvement Areas (BIAs) include some of our most vibrant commercial districts. BIAs come into existence when local business and property owners join together to improve, promote and undertake projects that will result in a stronger and more competitive commercial main street or business district. With the City’s support, they organize, finance and complete local improvements and promotional events from their common location within a defined commercial area. The range of activities that a BIA undertakes are:
- Marketing: Understanding who area customers are, and creating effective promotions to retain and expand the customer base.
- Business recruitment: Working with property owners to ensure that available space is occupied, and that an optimum business and service mix is achieved and maintained.
- Streetscape improvement and other amenities: Providing for more customer-friendly lighting, signage, street furniture, planters, banners and sidewalk treatment.
- Seasonal decorations: Creating a unique and pleasant environment for customers and staff of all businesses, retail and non-retail, through the use of decorations that are appropriate to the season and holiday.
- Special events: Organizing and partnering in special events that highlight the unique attributes of the area and increase customer visits.
How does the City help?
In order for a BIA to be successful, it requires the commitment of the business community to undertake the organizational planning to establish the zone as well as to direct the programming of the BIA on an ongoing basis. The City of Ottawa recognizes the importance of the collaborative approach and its payback to the business community and is committed in its support and encouragement to business groups to examine the formation of a BIA for their area. The City will assist in the formal designation of a BIA and collect a special zone levy, which is returned to the BIA for its administration, annual budget and programming needs.
Once interest has been established, a detailed proposal must be submitted to the City of Ottawa, as per the Ontario Municipal Act, which identifies the need, sets out the boundaries for the proposed area and proposes a by-law to be passed to establish the BIA. The City of Ottawa will then send notices to all of the property owners within the proposed zone notifying them of the intention to create the BIA. The property owner must then send a copy of the notice to their tenants within 30 days. If a particular person entitled to notification is in opposition, they have sixty (60) days following mailing of the notice to fill out a notice of objection and return it to the City of Ottawa. The by-law cannot be approved by Council and is defeated, if within sixty (60) days following mailing of notice, a petition is received representing one-third of the total # of businesses entitled to receive notice and also representing one-third of the business assessment base, objecting to the by-law. If sufficient objection is not received, then the City may pass a by-law designating the area as a BIA.
Once the BIA has been formally established, a Board of Management is elected from within the membership. As well, one member of the City Council is required to sit as a Board member.
Some of the important steps in establishing a BIA are outlined below:
Step 1 - Establish the need
Step 2 - Establish a steering committee
Step 3 - Set out goals and objectives
Step 4 - Prepare a preliminary budget proposal
Step 5 - Determine proposed boundaries
Step 6 - Communicate with interested parties
Step 7 - Formalize request to the City of Ottawa
Step 8 - Provide required notice to property/business owners
Step 9 - Pass required by-law
Business Improvement Area (BIA) Associations in Ottawa
Updated January 2017
Chair: Stuart Hodge
Executive Director: Kristin Small
Chair: Derek Crain
Sparks Street Mall
Executive Director: Kevin McHale