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What is a BIA?

Business Improvement Areas

Business Improvement Areas (BIAs) are groupings or communities of businesses, approved by municipal council, and designated as BIAs. BIAs develop and undertake programs to improve and beautify the Improvement Area, to promote the districts and the businesses within it, to bring customers to the area, to stimulate the economy, and to support the community. These programs can include physical improvements to the area, events and activities, promotional activities, decor and enhancements, advisory and advocacy, and member communications. These programs typically aim to keep the BIA area foremost in the public’s mind as an attractive, pleasant place to shop, to be entertained, to work and to live.

For many BIAs, the social wellbeing of the community is very important. Many BIAs have programs that deal specifically with homelessness, graffiti, crime prevention, safety, transportation, accessibility, density, green spaces and other issues. In addition, BIAs have expanded their roles to include business recruitment to their list of goals.

BIAs help to create stronger communities by supporting member participation through the Board of Directors and the various committees of the BIA. The formal BIA designation allows for a planned program to be developed with an annual budget contributed to by all its members.

Today, 58 BIAs are operating in British Columbia, with more on the way. The existing BIA areas represent over 60,000 businesses with over $16.5 billion in land value. Their combined budgets exceed $10 million. BIAs range in size, budget and focus depending on the needs of the community.

BIA Funding

BIA legislation provides for a special charge to be levied on each commercial and/or industrial property within the designated area. There are several ways City Councils can assess property and designate the contribution. The most commonly used methods are ASSESSMENT (mil rate percentage) or FRONTAGE (fixed sum per linear front footage).

For example, in ASSESSMENT, each property owner’s share of the annual BIA budget is proportionate to his or her PROPERTY’S share of the total taxable commercial value of all the properties within the BIA’s boundaries. In other words, if an owner owns 1% of the total taxable assessed PROPERTY value, the share will be 1% of the budget. Most landlords pass all or part of this cost to their business tenant(s) pursuant to lease agreements.

The above explanation is taken, in excerpts, from BIABC
For more details on BIAs in British Columbia please visit www.bia.bc.ca

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