Quesnel city council has directed staff to proceed with renewing the Business Improvement Area Bylaws for the Quesnel Downtown Association (QDA) and South Quesnel Business Association (SQBA) after recently approving their strategic plans.
Both associations spoke at the Tuesday, Nov. 22 council meeting sharing some of the changes they have made, events they have held, and opportunities and challenges moving forward.
“We’ve had a lot of growth and change in probably the last 18 months,” said Charlotte Kurta with the SQBA, noting during the pandemic their board was entirely replaced. “It took a bit of work to get our new board together, and we had some challenges, but we made lots of progress.”
Some of the changes the SQBA has recently made include a board made policy stating no money shall be gifted to any organization or charity and hiring a new executive director, Lisa Boudreau, in the summer of 2021.
“Another change is we offered membership into the SQBA to businesses outside our business area,” Kurta added. “Anyone who drives up the hill knows that we have a business association that goes from roughly Aroma Foods to Extra Foods, but past Extra Foods are also businesses, so we approached them, and some have chosen to become members.”
While the SQBA has no public space, Extra Foods provided their parking lot, where a car show, live music and more was held on July 9.
Kurta said they would like to work towards creating a multi-use space for community members to gather, eat and host events. Weaknesses include limited access to public garbage and seating areas.
“We are in an area where staff turnover can be high because of the chain businesses, so keeping our board functioning is an ongoing challenge,” Kurta added. “And traffic configuration and speed is an issue for some businesses with the layout with the south Quesnel frontage roads.”
Turning to the QDA, president Gilbert Schotel said the QDA holds four major marketing initiatives throughout the year, including employee appreciation week, spring sale (Walk! Talk! Shop!), moonlight madness, and a comprehensive social media campaign. Events this year include the Gold Dust Mall during Billy Barker Days, Alive After Five, Halloween Treat Trail and the upcoming Santa Extravaganza. The QDA also hopes to host a dinner event in partnership with the West Quesnel Business Association on the Walking Bridge this spring.
Schotel noted the QDA’s advocacy for members and downtown users, such as lobbying for improvement in public safety, working with RCMP and bylaw, and partnering with the city in pursuing funding for the Clean Team.
“Moving forward, we want to improve our relationship with government, First Nations, partner organizations, social service providers and other BIAs,” he said. “We also want to advocate for real solutions to address the homelessness that we see as well as crime and some of the social disorders we see.”
According to Schotel, there are a number of infrastructure improvements the QDA feels could improve the downtown core, including safety, livability and beautification. He added that the QDA also needs to advocate for sound policy that encourages the economic viability of the downtown core.
“There’s considerable uncertainty in regards to inflation at the moment, so we’re requesting that our increase each year (bylaw levy) be tied to the Consumer Price Index,” Schotel said, noting on-going challenges such as crime and safety, rising costs, labour shortages, and increasing regulation and taxation. “The other challenge and threat, of course, COVID-19 brought to focus there is a lot of online competition…and there are a number of costs — our competitors don’t face the daily shoplifters, they don’t face those daily things that we see, they don’t contribute to our local economies or charities, so we’d like to see that acknowledged.”
Following the delegations, Quesnel council approved both association’s strategic plans and directed staff to proceed with preparing the bylaws to renew their Business Improvement Area Bylaws.
The bylaw extension of the South Quesnel Business Improvement Area will be for 2023-2027 for the amount of $80,000 on a council initiative process subject to petition against. The bylaw extension of the Quesnel Downtown Association Business Improvement Area will also be for 2023-2027, but for the amount of $70,380 in 2023 and going up by inflation each year after that on a council initiative process subject to petition against.
Once staff have completed the process of preparing the bylaws for the first two readings, strategic plans will be mailed out to all businesses in each BIA with an estimate of their cost and instructions for the petition in January.
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