Tag Archives: BIA

City of North Vancouver delays vote on LoLo BIA after counter-bid fails to stop motion

Comment from Voices:  We agree with Coun Clark’s assessment of the LLBA and their financial stewardship.  The proposed BIA annual budget of $500K is here: http://www.lowerlonsdalebusinessassociation.com/index.php?area_id=1004&page_id=1063.    Had the LLBA been successful, surely they would have more than 71 members?

 

from the North Shore News:

A proposed Lower Lonsdale business improvement area has earned enough support from landowners, but is still awaiting council’s blessing before it can go ahead.

City council opted Monday to defer the BIA decision, a motion made by Coun. Holly Back who requested staff report back with a clearer picture of how much the BIA levy would cost individual business owners. The deferral comes on the heels of a counter-petition that recorded opposition to the BIA from 31 per cent of the area’s landowners – well short of the majority needed to defeat the proposal. The BIA has proposed a $500,000 annual operating budget set to be divided proportionally amongst property owners, which would likely be downloaded to tenants.

“And it is a concern for small business,” said Back, a former small business owner herself. Back also asked for clarity as to why hotels within the BIA as well as Lonsdale Quay Market would pay at a rate 50 per cent lower than that charged other property owners – “because big businesses can afford it and small business can’t.”

Lonsdale Quay merchants already pay a common area fee and hotels pay a two per cent tourism tax, explained the city’s business services manager Larry Orr.

The BIA would collect $1- $1.10 per $1,000 of assessed property value. The average landowner in LoLo, where the median assessment value is $430,000, would pay an annual levy of $440.

A BIA’s main objective is for its members to collectively fund community enhancement projects and marketing campaigns through the levy.

Council voted 4-3 in July to trigger a counter-petition, meaning 50 per cent of property owners within the BIA boundary – representing at least half the area’s land value – had to register their opposition to defeat the BIA.

Owners had 30 days to respond to the petition which was mailed out to 323 Lower Lonsdale property owners in the middle of August. Coun. Don Bell had unsuccessfully pushed to delay the petition process until after Labour Day.

The timing of the petition and the process itself has presented concerns for at least three councillors – Bell, Pam Bookham and Rod Clark.

Bell, while seeing the value in a merchants’ association, speaking from the perspective of being a one-time small business owner, reiterated that he was against the BIA petition because of the timing. September, said Bell, would have been a “fairer” month to hold the petition.

Bookham agreed that August is a month when people generally aren’t available for business matters. “Sometimes, it does seem like a process can be rigged or at least can be designed to facilitate a particular outcome,” said Bookham.

Calling council’s vote on the BIA a “dark day in North Vancouver,” Clark said the “bad process” was a negative petition slanted towards those in favour of a BIA.

Clark went on to say he has “absolutely no confidence in the Lower Lonsdale Business Association,” the volunteer-run organization tasked with the BIA bid with funding from the city. “The reason being that they have already had $120,000 … and we have nothing to show for it,” said Clark. “In fact, we have two other failed attempts at a BIA. So, are they good stewards of money? Certainly not so far.”

Coun. Craig Keating said he’s glad to see the BIA come to fruition and praised the LoLo business community volunteers that “want to create something that has been proven a success” in cities across North America, B.C. and the Lower Mainland.

Coun. Linda Buchanan said it’s a good time to tie the BIA bid in with other new projects in LoLo – The Shipyards, the North Vancouver Museum, and Polygon Gallery. Calling the BIA a divisive process, Buchanan said some LoLo business have been confused by people who are “really undermining this process.”

Mayor Darrell Mussatto acknowledged that it has been a contentious issue for some, saying any frustration with the negative petition process should be directed to the province, which sets out the legislation.

Speaking after the meeting, a disappointed LLBA president Bill Curtis said: “I am stunned at how misinformed council is and how long they have had an opportunity to get educated about it.”

Clark was the only councillor opposed to the deferral motion, which carried 6-1. The BIA matter is expected to be back before council in a few weeks.

Source: City of North Vancouver delays vote on LoLo BIA after counter-bid fails to stop motion

Advertisements

When is a referendum not a referendum?

There has been much discussion in the City of North Van since 2013 about the formation of a BIA (business improvement area) in Lower Lonsdale.   Some of the previous coverage can be obtained by typing “BIA” in our search engine.  The bylaw was passed by Council in late July:  https://nvcityvoices.wordpress.com/2016/07/20/city-of-north-vancouver-triggers-lower-lonsdale-bia-process/
.
We (Voices) have received copies of concerns from some businesses about the process.  We also received  a copy of the following email to Louise Ranger, President of the North Vancouver Chamber of Commerce detailing the writer’s (Elizabeth James) concerns.  We fully support the steps proposed in Ms. James’ email, we have had concerns about the process:   the timing (late summer – vacations), the accounting of the $120,000 spent previously by the Lower Lonsdale Business Assn, and the financial support of one candidate by a non-profit supported by the City in the Nov 2014 local election.

 

.

Ms. Louise Ranger, Pres.
North Vancouver Chamber of Commerce

Dear Ms. Ranger:

Although I no longer write  columns for the North Shore News, I still receive emails from residents of the North Shore about issues that concern them. Some of those issues are of direct or indirect interest to members of the Chamber.

Such is the case with respect to the current alternative approval process for the City of North Vancouver’s initiative for a Lower Lonsdale Business Improvement Association (BIA).

In particular, I was interested and encouraged to see this phrase in your most recent email to Mr. Kerry Morris:

“Now that the public process is underway, it is up to property owners and their [business] tenants to decide if they want to form a BIA. Our role is to ensure that property owners and businesses are aware and informed of the process and what they need to do to express their vote.”

Your comment is encouraging because, unlike the Community Charter/Local Government Act, it suggests the Chamber recognizes that tenants have a right to express their opinion in matters that directly affect them.

The problem I have with the process underway in Lower Lonsdale is that, with the exception of the legally-required advertisement in the local paper, the City has made little to no effort to ensure business tenants are made aware of their rights in the matter.

Instead, rather than standing neutral and making tenants aware of both the pros and cons of forming a BIA, the City’s efforts have been geared to doing – or not doing – everything necessary to ensure the initiative passes.

My own bias is clear. I have believed from Day One that the alternative approval process is nothing more than the negative billing approach that was shot down in the courts when it was attempted by Rogers Communications many years ago – viz. “We plan to do this, unless you happen to see our tiny ad in the paper and tell us not to do it.”

I disagree with the City when it asserts that the LOLO BIA is not a form of taxation without representation. I believe a check of many small entrepreneurs who have been forced to move away and/or fold up their businesses after formation of other BIAs, will illustrate the flaws inherent to the process. To say nothing of the fact that‘ordinary’ city residents have been foot-slogging it around LOLO in an attempt to make everyone aware it was happening. Many dozens were not!

So what would I like to hear now from the Chamber?

Well, following your comment and remembering the NV Chamber’s courageous support for a study to see whether amalgamation of the two North Vancouvers makes financial and/or social sense, I would appreciate it if you and your executive would take these steps:

1. Urge City council to immediately suspend the current LOLO BIA process until after October 1st when most people will have caught up after their summer activities/vacations.

2. Ask the City to prepare and distribute a neutrally-worded letter to all tenants in the area (businesses and otherwise) that describes tenants’ rights and obligations under the legislation;

3. Ask that said letter outline ALL of the pros and cons of BIAs and make specific, binding commitments as to what costs will not be made the responsibility of BIA membership should one be formed.

More generally for the benefit of all British Columbians, I would like the NV Chamber to also urge the BC Chamber to request an immediate provincial government review of the undemocratic Alternative Approval process and to include representation of ALL local Chambers in that discussion.

Once again, Ms. Ranger, my thanks to you for including the quoted comment in your letter to Mr. Morris. Although I am no longer an indirect member of the Chamber by way of my employment, your comment is encouraging.

Sincerely,
Elizabeth James

City of North Vancouver triggers Lower Lonsdale BIA process

from the North Shore News:

Lower Lonsdale may be 30 days from a business improvement area, following a split council vote Monday night.

Council voted 4-3 to trigger a counter petition, meaning it would take opposition from 50 per cent of the waterfront district’s property owners – representing at least half the area’s land value – to defeat the BIA.

Owners will have 30 days to respond to a petition set to be mailed out later this summer.

The petition process shouldn’t begin until after Labour Day, according to Coun. Don Bell.

Despite some qualms about the BIA’s branding conflicting with the city’s, Bell said he would support the BIA only if the petition was mailed out after Labour Day.

“I want (property owners) to have a fair chance … if they wish to oppose it,” he said.

Bell’s push to delay the petition was defeated.

All businesses in Lower Lonsdale, bordered by Forbes and St. Georges avenues to the east and west respectively and East Fourth Street to the north, should be enriched by the BIA, according to Coun. Holly Back.

“I find that people who don’t agree with the BIA have probably never been in small business,” she said.

The BIA’s functions range from organizing festivals to cleaning up graffiti to promoting the waterfront district’s 496 businesses.

“No matter what your business is, you need advertising,” Back said.

The BIA would collect between $1 and $1.10 per $1,000 of assessed property value. For a business with an assessed value of $430,000 – the median in the Lower Lonsdale – that amounts to an annual levy of $440.

“If you can’t afford (the levy), you probably shouldn’t be in business,” she said.

Landlords generally pass the levies to their tenants through triple-net leases, noted Stephen Mikicich, West Vancouver’s manager of community planning, who spoke to council in May.

Businesses with larger assessments, such as the Pinnacle Hotel and the Lonsdale Quay Market and Hotel, would pay between 50 and 55 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value.

The levy is too high for cash-strapped businesses, argued Coun. Pam Bookham.

“Every year at budget time we have representatives from the business community come forward bemoaning the fact that they pay an exorbitant amount in taxes,” she said.

While Bookham judged that dentists and lawyers working on the second storey would see negligible benefits, Coun. Craig Keating described the BIA as a “tide that raises all boats.”

Mayor Darrell Mussatto agreed. “I think it will benefit all (businesses) in the area, whether they’re first floor, second floor, or penthouse.”

Besides benefiting businesses, the BIA will be a boon to employees, who will be able to work and run errands in a more vibrant community, according to Coun. Linda Buchanan.

In what was at times a contentious debate, Coun. Rod Clark bashed the negative petition as “taxation without representation.”

While he credited the BIA supporters for their good intentions, he later described them as “people who have blown $120,000 of our taxpayer money so far and have nothing to show for it.”

Previous attempts to form a Lower Lonsdale BIA were frustrated in 2010 and 2013. The fact that the issue keeps resurfacing shows the dogged determination of the volunteers, according to Keating.

If successful, the BIA will begin operating Jan. 1, 2017. They have requested an initial operating budget of $500,000.

The board of the BIA will be elected from property owners and businesses in Lower Lonsdale.

– See more at: http://www.nsnews.com/news/city-of-north-vancouver-triggers-lower-lonsdale-bia-process-1.2305581#sthash.aqM7e4Mx.dpuf

Source: City of North Vancouver triggers Lower Lonsdale BIA process