In a changing downtown, Bank Street BIA to rebrand as Centretown BIA

christine leadman - bank street bia
After 10 years, Christine Leadman is stepping away from her position with the Centretown BIA. (Photo by Capital Content Inc.)

Bank Street BIA will be rebranding and taking on a new identity next week, according to executive director Christine Leadman. 

The association will become the Centretown BIA, with a new logo and brand visuals to be unveiled at a launch event Aug. 2. 

“We’re thrilled to introduce the fresh face and name of our business improvement area, a transformation that aligns with our evolving identity and forward-thinking vision,” the organization wrote in the invite to the launch event. “We’ll delve into the motivations behind this change and our aspiration to strengthen unity within our community.”

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In an interview with OBJ, Leadman said the rebrand is an opportunity for the BIA to reach other businesses. 

“We’re looking to expand our service from a business perspective,” she said. “Obviously, there’s a need for Centretown businesses to have that support system. We’re looking to expand our boundaries to look at including some businesses that are in the Centretown area.”

It’s a move that she said is especially relevant as business owners grapple with rising costs and changing customer bases. 

“Knowing that the feds are never going to return to a five-day work week type environment, we need to rethink who we are and what we do,” she said. 

Efforts are underway to revitalize the downtown core, which was hit hard by the pandemic and has yet to recover. 

According to Leadman, many businesses have been forced to leave the area, due to lack of foot traffic, costs, unreliable public transit and safety concerns. In the last year, she said many have struggled to find staff and have reduced their hours as a result.

“People aren’t coming to the area; they’re not coming to shop,” she said. “This is the future, so there has to be a plan. Businesses have to adapt or revisit their business plan, as we are ourselves, in terms of what we do.”

Another concern is safety, which Leadman said has kept potential customers out of the area. 

“We need recognition that the situation for businesses is not acceptable,” she said. “If the core is going to survive, you need to put money in the care of people. There needs to be more than just crisis intervention, there needs to be full wraparound services and housing.”

She added that not enough support services are available to help people in the area dealing with homelessness or addiction. 

“(Businesses) are not equipped to deal with this,” she said. “It is unconscionable that we have residents who live in this city and their plight isn’t being addressed in any reasonable way by the province, the municipality, or by the feds. I don’t see a lot of support coming in any time soon.”

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