In 2017 the Downtown Nanaimo Business Improvement Association suspended operations and businesses downtown quickly discovered the difference between having a group functioning to support business success and having nobody leading the way.
Since then, different individuals, merchant groups, and the Chamber of Commerce have been contributing their energy to advocate for downtown businesses creating events and promotions to build traffic downtown. Although helpful, the lack of an overall plan, consistency of effort, and focused energy does not serve the needs of downtown businesses well enough.
In 2019, the Chamber began working with merchants to organize a new non-profit society made up of downtown business operators and property owners. That status was granted by the Province in May of 2020 and the organization has applied to the city for BIA status.
The new BIA will:
- Become the dedicated, independent voice of downtown speaking through a Board of Directors elected at a grass roots level.
- Work with existing, neighbouring downtown business associations and organizations in partnerships for the common good.
- Seek funding in addition to the money raised from the BIA levy through partnerships, sponsorships and cooperative campaigns. The BIA will NOT be seeking a partnership with the city to match the levy with taxpayer’s funds.
- Work with specialists and contractors to undertake promotional programming, events, community development and safety and security.
Now it’s up to downtown property owners to decide if the BIA will go ahead. They have the choice of supporting a small levy on their properties to financially support the BIA. Keeping the number of participants high, keeps the individual levy low. Funds collected would be reinvested wholly in improving the chances of success for downtown businesses. Programming and planning for downtown would focus on attracting shoppers and visitors by providing attractions and events to animate downtown streets. Property owners primarily download the additional costs of the levy onto their tenants who benefit from increased traffic and sales, and an improved downtown environment.
Downtown’s challenges won’t be resolved without the commitment of this grassroots organization, and certainly not without the resources a BIA can put in the hands of this new independent group looking out for downtown. Offer your encouragement to downtown merchants by supporting a new BIA for downtown Nanaimo and, if you’re a downtown property owner, support a brighter future for downtown by supporting a new BIA.