LoLo BIA bid put on hold

The Lower Lonsdale Business Association is postponing their bid for a Business Improvement Area in light of new information on the city
The Lower Lonsdale Business Association is postponing their bid for a Business Improvement Area in light of new information on the city's central waterfront vision and rebranding process.
— image credit: Maria Spitale-Leisk photo

The organizers of a Business Improvement Area (BIA) bid for Lower Lonsdale have asked the City of North Van to put the brakes on the process.

Late last year, city council directed staff to create a bylaw for the establishment of a BIA. The final approval was scheduled to come before council on Jan. 20.

City staff would have sent a counter-petition to all commercial property owners within the proposed BIA boundaries informing them of the change and pending levy. Barring notice of opposition within 30 days from 51 per cent of the business owners, the BIA would have automatically been instated.

Now, the group spearheading the campaign, the Lower Lonsdale Business Association, wants to postpone that vote in light of new information coming forward on the central waterfront vision and rebranding process.

LLBA executive director Stephanie Clarke told The Outlook Thursday they have been in meetings with the city's waterfront development team. Destination marketing guru Roger Brooks, who the city has retained to lead the process, will be back before council on Feb. 3 to present a waterfront vision.

"It's pretty exciting and it's pretty significant," said Clarke.

The LLBA figures the timing is too tight to ask council to a consider the BIA when the waterfront discussions are just ramping up. According to Clarke, another key factor in the decision is the proposed BIA budget. That $385,000, which would fund area improvements and shared marketing strategies, would be raised through a commercial property levy.

"And some of the things that might be attached to this waterfront revitalization package, some of the things that are contained in that, might be already addressed so we won't need to put it in our budget," said Clarke. "So, it's kind of premature for us to launch the budget without knowing what they [the city] are going to be paying for because there could be overlaps."

This is the LLBA's second attempt at trying to bring the first BIA to the North Shore, following a failed campaign in 2010, when 49 per cent of Lower Lonsdale property owners dissented .

Two weeks ago, The Outlook asked Pete Turcotte, owner of Lower Lonsdale mainstay Big Pete’s Comics & Collectibles, if he was in favour of a BIA.

He said, based on what he's seen of the proposal, he's not convinced. He figures his $600 BIA contribution will fund improvements south of Esplanade Avenue on the waterfront.

"I don't think it's fair," said Turcotte.

Clarke spoke to the suggestion the funds would be funneled to one area. She explained the BIA constituency base would have representatives or block captains from all corners of its boundaries.

"So you can't have all your funding in one particular area," said Clarke. "It has to be equitable."

Clarke is concerned some of the information getting out into the Lower Lonsdale business community is not completely accurate.

She said the LLBA looks forward to hearing more BIA commentary and invites area stakeholders to attend future outreach meetings.

"Now it's getting down to the final wire for them, and that kind of suggestion basically says: 'You haven't come and learned about what's possible,'" said Clarke.

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