It seems there is some support for the creation of a Business Improvement Area in Minden something that ideally Minden Hills Mayor Brent Devolin would like to see come into fruition before the end of this year.
Minden Hills has been allotted more than $40000 through the province’s Main Street Revitalization Initiative which provides funding for projects aimed at supporting and benefiting small businesses. A meeting at the Minden Hills Community Centre last week brought together stakeholders to discuss ways in which that money might be spent. Some of those suggestions included improving the entranceway into Minden’s downtown along Bobcaygeon Road from Highway 35; public washrooms; a park for children to play; and beautification efforts. The township will be submitting a proposal.
“It was a substantial bunch of the movers and shakers” Devolin said of the meeting’s attendees who included a number of business owners.
Also broached was the concept of a BIA for Minden.
There is a distinction between a business association and business improvement area the former being a collective of business owners working together on promotional ideas cross-promotion beautification projects etc. and the latter being a group of building owners within a defined geographic area who are mandated to contribute financially to such efforts.
Downtown Haliburton has a BIA and building owners within its jurisdiction are required by the municipality to contribute financially. It is governed by a board of business owners and community members. Its latest project is the creation of sculpture exhibition in Haliburton where sculptures will be installed on fixed bases throughout the downtown changing each year.
“The exact shape and form is not developed yet” Devolin said. “Is there a high likelihood that it would be similar to the one in Haliburton? I would say probably.”
Just where the boundary lines of a BIA would be drawn is one of a number of questions that would need to be answered.
“The definition of downtown . . . there are two or three different yard sticks” Devolin said adding for example would a BIA be confined to to the downtown area or would it include businesses located along the Highway 35 corridor.
“I’m not presupposing” Devolin said. “I’m excited about either or.”
The concept of a BIA is welcome to the owners of Up River Trading Co.
“Absolutely we would be in favour” said Paul Roy who owns the shop along with Mike McKeon. “I think if the businesses get together within the community and are working together that it’s common sense that can’t be anything but good for all the individuals.”
Some business owners who were at the meeting told the paper that while they supported the concept of a BIA in principle they would need specific details before voicing support for a BIA in Minden.
“A business association is typically beneficial to a business community” Shawn Chamberlin who owns the Dominion Hotel and Grill on the Gull told the paper. “However the matter of any association whether business or otherwise is always defined by jurisdiction and scope. I think there was some support in the meeting for the concept however I would not be able to offer an opinion until I knew what I was opining.”
“Personally I’d rather have a business association” said Molly McInerney of Molly’s Bistro Bakery. However a number of attempts to create a business owners association in Minden in recent years in which McInerney was involved have failed to come to fruition. “We haven’t had time to do it.”
With a BIA McInerney pointed out it’s the building owners who are not always the business owners who are required to pay into a fund.
“My other problem with a BIA is that it’s geographically restrictive” McInerney said. “What’s the geographic area?”
In her mind McInerney said a BIA should basically encompass Minden Hills township but questioned how events in downtown Minden would benefit business owners in Carnarvon.
McInerney also questioned how much control business owners would have in the context of a BIA versus how much control the municipality would have.
Minden Hills is working on an economic development plan and recently appointed an ec dev task force. Devolin told the paper that council also intends to create an economic development staff position within the township hopefully by the end of the year.