Campaign donations and the BIA – Ethical?

Ethical conduct?

We thought we were finished with the 2014 local election and questions and concerns about donations.   Now, with the Lower Lonsdale Business Association (LLBA) delegation before CNV Council last Monday, we have many questions.    So much media coverage is currently focusing on donations to all levels of government, and the practice of payment for access to politicians (lobbying).  We have an example of a non-profit group (LLBA) , partly financed by the CNV,  donating $5500 to a candidate (Iani Makris), or multiple candidates.   This was the focus of a previous post in Bell’s North Van City News: http://www.northvancitynews.com/partisan-group-is-funded/

Our previous post with the North Shore News coverage of the meeting is here: https://nvcityvoices.wordpress.com/2016/05/14/lower-lonsdale-bia-gets-a-second-chance/

The editorial in the NS News (Self-improvement) is here:

‘Yes means yes. Silence – in the case of the Lower Lonsdale Business Improvement Area – also means yes.

The City of North Vancouver will likely use a counter-petition for a proposed Lower Lonsdale BIA later this year, a process that has been the province’s system for establishing more than 70 BIAs around B.C.

BIAs charge all the businesses in their area a levy and an elected board decides how the cash will be spent in the interests of the business community.

What is particularly unjust about using a counter-petition is that it barely affords the “no” side a fighting chance.

Unless a majority of business owners vote against the BIA, the city may set one up. And it’s the landlord who is asked to vote on the counter-petition, not the tenant businesses. Landlords can happily pass the bill to their tenants through triple-net leases.

But while the methodology is counter-democratic, the BIA itself could still be a boon to Lower Lonsdale, particularly as the waterfront community readies for a sea change.

The Shipyards may soon boast a plaza alongside a skating rink/splash pool. Neighbouring Moodyville’s population is set to quadruple.

Capitalists often attribute their success to outworking their opponents, but this may be an instance when LoLo’s shopkeepers could benefit more from collaboration than competition.

However, when it comes to those second-storey white collar offices, for whom street beautification and marketing isn’t particularly helpful, and another monthly levy is nothing but a burden, silence isn’t golden – it’s time to be heard.’  http://www.nsnews.com/opinion/editorial/editorial-self-improvement-1.2254830

We (Voices) have received copies of two Letters to the Editor (not yet published):

NVCV – BIA May 2016 2 from Aiki Enterprises

NVCV – BIA May 2016 from Kerry Morris

There are many comments on social media about the current conduct and voting patterns of some members of Council.  For those who need a reminder of who is funding the majority of development in the City of North Van, you’ll find familiar names here:  http://contributions.electionsbc.gov.bc.ca/pcs/LESearch.aspx

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One response to “Campaign donations and the BIA – Ethical?

  1. BIA

    I would like to add my comments on the BIA issue in Lower Lonsdale.

    According to our Mayor, it is illegal for an organization such as the BIA to impose a levy upon a business; only a Municipal Council can do that, it’s called a Tax, and businesses hate taxes. So a BIA (Business Improvement Area) must approach Council to support its concept of a BIA. That is great for the City; it generates savings from the cost of plantings on all the beautiful boulevard improvements, wide sidewalks and bicycle routes. But there is already a local Lower Lonsdale Business Association (LLBA) that helps to promote the local businesses in the community and a Chamber of Commerce that also helps to promote businesses in the area. Each of these organizations charges a membership fee. Now a BIA group wishes to impose their ideas upon the business Community with the support of the LLBA. As it’s illegal for them to impose a ‘levy’, they must request that the City impose that levy as a TAX upon the owner of the property in which the Business operates. So unknowingly, the business owners which the LLBA and the BIA wish to support will suddenly find an additional cost to operate without any input from them. That’s Taxation without Representation; a war was started over that issue.

    It’s an interesting concept until one realizes that the LLBA itself will elect a board to operate the BIA. So who really are the beneficiaries of this concept? The City will gain from increased Taxes some of which will filter down to members operating the BIA. Two years ago City Council approved by a majority of 4-2 the princely sum $120,000 to be handed over to the LLBA, (whose membership is very questionable) to promote a BIA for Lower Lonsdale. Now two years later, just last week the LLBA presented to Council the Support of 19 businesses out of 600. Does that really justify the expenditure of $120,000 of Taxpayer’s money? It sounds more like a resounding ‘NO’.

    It must mean the BIA is spending someone else’s money. With those, kind of results, a business would be broke in a month, so that money must be coming from deep pockets. Might I suggest it’s coming from us taxpayers, with the compliments of the Slate on our City Council? Spending $120,000 over two years is plenty of time to understand the word “NO”.

    The past President of the Vancouver BIA is shocked that businesses are not supporting the idea in North Vancouver. She talks about the beautiful place to work and live in Lower Lonsdale and the great things that is happening on our waterfront. May I suggest that we wait and see what is happening, and exactly when it is happening before committing to additional costs for the businesses?

    Councillors are Civic Servants; what do they not understand about those two words? Councillors should not be imposing their own wills upon Taxpayers or Businesses. Only a businessperson will know the full cost of doing business and if those offered by a BIA representative aren’t for them, I suggest the BIA should stop wasting our City Council’s time and Taxpayer’s money and return to West Vancouver which supports a BIA.

    Ivan Leonard

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