Download our BIA proposal here: ADBIA Brochure
What is a B.I.A. and how is it Implemented?
A Business Improvement Area (or BIA) is a defined commercial area, in which business and property owners work together to promote the area to increase customer traffic, organize promotional events, and take on a broad range of programs to improve business opportunities.
How is it Funded?
BIAs are funded through a special levy on all commercial (BC Assessment Class 6) properties within their boundaries. The amount that each property contributes is proportionate to its size, relative to the whole area. The BIA organization establishes its own funding requirements, and proposed individual contributions will be based on:
Assessment Method Calculated on the value of the property, as a percentage of the total commercial assessment within the BIA boundaries – e.g., if a property’s assessment is equal to 1% of the total assessed value, it contributes an amount equal to 1% of the BIA’s annual budget. This is the most common method.
The special levy on commercial properties is the primary funding source for a BIA. However, established BIAs are able to leverage this funding through government grants, private sponsorships, in-kind contributions of goods or services, donations and fund-raising activities. These efforts can significantly increase a BIA’s operating budget, at no additional cost to local businesses.
Is the BIA levy a municipal tax?
The BIA levy is collected via the municipal property tax system, and is technically a local service area tax. However, the proceeds from this levy do not accrue to the Municipality. 100% of the BIA levy amount is ‘granted’ to the Business Improvement Association to fund its activities each year.
Proposed BIA Term and Funding Ceiling
A District of West Vancouver Bylaw would establish the BIA for a period of 10 years (after which it would need to be formally renewed by new bylaw); and establish the maximum funding amount over this period of $5 Million Dollars.
How does a BIA differ from a Business Association?
A traditional business association is primarily funded through voluntary membership dues. It does not represent the entire commercial area, as not all business and property owners are members, nor are its physical boundaries necessarily defined.
A BIA, on the other hand, is more representative, in that all business and property owners within its boundaries are automatically ‘members,’ and each contributes toward the BIA levy.
In many communities, existing business associations have evolved into (or sponsored the formation of) a BIA, as a more equitable means of funding ongoing programs and key initiatives. Under the BIA model, all of those who benefit also contribute.
How is a BIA established?
Provincial BIA enabling legislation is contained in Section 215 of the Community Charter. The impetus for establishing a BIA comes from the business community itself. A BIA is typically sponsored by an existing business association, chamber of commerce, or a steering committee of local business and property owners.
This proposed BIA will be established under the Community Charter in the following manner:
Council Initiative: If Council is convinced of the merits of a BIA, and is assured of local community support by the BIA sponsor, it may proceed to establish a BIA on its ‘own initiative.’ Under this process, a letter is sent out to all affected property owners indicating that Council may adopt a BIA bylaw, unless the owners of a majority of properties, representing a majority of the total assessed value, petitions against the proposal within 30 days.
Whereas only the property owners have an official say under the Council Initiative, the BIA sponsor will seek support for the proposed BIA from all affected business and property owners; as the cost of the BIA levy is typically passed down from property owners to their commercial tenants.