I know that you are all probably sick of me blabbering on about our downtown by now. It’s occupied my last 5 posts almost on a daily basis this past week. The downtown of any community is the heart and soul of a town, when it dies so does the community, our downtown isn’t dead, but it needs some cosmetic surgery and a triple bypass. This will be my last post for now on the subject.
Sometimes when I write this blog I forget that there are actual people on the receiving end of my musings (OK insults). My apologies if anything I have written in regards to Downtown Collingwood and its BIA, offended some of its members or board of directors. I can assure all of you that none of it was meant with any malicious intent but more to start some conversations on the future of the downtown area of this place we all call home.
The following was emailed to me by a former member of the board of directors of the Downtown BIA. I will not mention a name because I wasn’t given permission to and it’s not relevant anyway.
I have read your blogs and the comments with great interest. There are some very valid points and suggestions. However, I wanted to clarify some points for both you and your readers that may not be known:
1) Business Improvement Areas/Associations exist throughout downtowns in Ontario both large – Toronto/London/Kitchener and small Barrie/Collingwood/Owen Sound through the Ontario Municipal Act and a Town of Collingwood by-law. Initially BIA’s were formed to revitalize downtowns, which are the core of any community. The Collingwood BIA has been in effect since the mid 70’s
2) Our BIA board is comprised of 8 volunteers (business and property owners within our BIA boundaries + 1 Council representative) and a General Manager. Our election via ballot is held every 4 years as members put forth their names in line with our municipal elections.
3) Businesses within the BIA not only pay business taxes, but have an additional levy placed on them to cover all that the board does on an annual basis. ie. Christmas decorations, banners, farmer’s market, flower planters, Easter egg hunt, Santa Claus parade, ice sculptures, local live lunch, Art on the street, the art chair project etc. advertising and much more. It is all done with BIA dollars, NOT Town of Collingwood dollars.
It would be my hope that the community would understand why the BIA are concerned that programs at the Eddie Bush Arena have been reduced/moved to Central Park. The Eddie Bush Arena is and has been an integral part of our downtown. It brings people downtown to shop, dine, bank, stroll, etc. – what do they get to do while at Central Park?
Councillor Hull’s comments re uniform store hours is valid, but it is next to impossible to mandate, the BIA can only suggest. Is there room for improvement? – ALWAYS!