Downtown Kelowna businesses are looking at a steep increase in the levy they pay to fund the Downtown Kelowna Business Improvement Area following city council’s decision Monday to allow a renewal of the BIA’s agreement for another five-years.
Under the plan, presented to council Monday by Downtown Kelowna Association officials, BIA members will face a 15 per cent increase next year, followed by three per cent increases the each of the following two years, and 3.5 per cent increases in both 2017 and 2018. The total increase over the five years will be just over 30 per cent.
Peggy Athans, executive director of the Downtown Kelowna Association said the large increase next year will go to help pay for added security personnel downtown and more street-cleaning services. They are two of the most popular services the DKA provides in the eyes of downtown business owners, said Athans.
The city’s business improvement area, one of the oldest in B.C., helps promote the downtown through a series of services, programs and initiatives, such as the very successful Bernard Avenue Block Party, which drew thousands into the downtown core last Saturday, its ongoing Small Shop Saturday promotions, an information kiosk in Kerry Park, as well as business recruitment work, the Downtown Clean Team, the Downtown Concierge, marketing efforts and a host of other efforts.
The association raises most of its money through an annual levy on its 1,200 members, amounts that range this year from $919 for the owner of a small building to $2,977 for the owner of a large building. By the end of the new agreement period in 2018, those amounts will increase to $1,202 for the owner of a small building to $5,366 for the owner of a large building.
Council was supportive of the downtown BIA, noting the success a mixture of the DKA’s work and its own improvements recently throughout the downtown core have had on the area that it likes to refer to as the “heart of the city.”
“We’re one of the few downtowns in B.C. that is really exploding,” said Coun. Andre Blanleil, who voted with the rest of council to approve the BIA for another five years.
The agreement has been in place since 1989 and must be renewed every five years.
The fate of the BIA will now rests in the hands of downtown businesses, which have until Sept. 23 to approve or oppose it. City officials said it will require 51 per cent of the businesses or representatives of 50 per cent of the assessed value within the BIA boundary area (the lake to Richter Street, including the new Central Green, and just south of Harvey Avenue to just north of Clement Avenue) to approve or reject the renewal.
In addition to the $679,000 this year and the projected $780,850 next year that the DKA will raise through its levy on members, it also plans to raise another $126,000 in other revenues, while spending $366,461 on administration this year, $269,880 for on-street services, $175,500 for marketing and events, and $5,000 on business recruitment.