Kanata Central businesses likely to form BIA in 2017: Ottawa councillor

Plans for a Kanata Central Business Improvement Area (BIA) are coming closer to reality.

Kanata North councillor Marianne Wilkinson held a meeting with businesses in the area on Monday morning to receive feedback and update owners on the progress in having a BIA established.

“Everybody was very positive,” Ms. Wilkinson says. “Things look like they’re going to go ahead.”

The proposed area, from Canadian Shield Avenue and Campeau Drive to the Carp River and Highway 417, contains approximately 130 businesses with a current assessed value of some $330 million, a number that’s still being calculated. Businesses in the area range from a Canadian Tire and auto dealerships to offices and hotels.

Most BIAs in Ottawa are primarily comprised of retail businesses and restaurants along traditional mainstreets in central areas of Ottawa and work to attract visitors and customers.

However, that’s been changing in recent years, most significantly with the formation of the Kanata North BIA in 2012.

Covering an area dominated by office parks and tech firms, the Kanata North BIA has held job fairs for its members and organized tours for members of Ottawa’s diplomatic community.

A report will go to the city’s finance and economic development committee on Dec. 6 recommending local businesses vote on creating a BIA. Voting is based on property value: If businesses representing 30 per cent of property value in the proposed area vote no, the BIA cannot go ahead.

Ms. Wilkinson says she would be very surprised if the vote did not pass.

In that motion is passed, voting should wrap up by mid-February, which is just in time to get the BIA a budget for the next year, a decision usually made in March.

Ms. Wilkinson says the BIA would anticipate a modest budget of about $150,000 for the first year, enough for basic marketing and background studies for the businesses to establish the BIA’s most effective uses.

Businesses in the area approached Ms. Wilkinson in May about creating a BIA, primarily to give input on development areas in the business district. Ms. Wilkinson also used Monday morning’s meeting to consult with businesses on a proposed development in the ward – something that’s easier to do with an official organization representing the area’s business community.

Jenna Sudds of the Kanata North BIA and representatives from the Barrhaven BIA have also been at proposal meetings to provide their perspectives on how a BIA can work for businesses. Ms. Wilkinson added that discussions for the prospective Kanata Central BIA have been relatively fast-moving, in comparison to the Kanata North BIA which took two-and-a-half years to come to fruition.