AGM for BIA reflects on challenging yet successful year

·2 min read

By Spencer Seymour, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

The March 15, 2021 Annual General Meeting, conducted via Zoom and streamed on YouTube to interested community members, was a smoothly-run affair that lasted 48 minutes from beginning to end.

In attendance were Andre Morin and Kelly Deeks-Johnson from the Town of St. Marys, Councillor Tony Winter, Board members Kyle Burnside, Amie Rankin, Gwendolen Boyle, and Landon Hoare, and administrative assistant Emily Taylor.

Chairman Hoare reflected on 2020 in his annual activity review. “This year was a challenging time, and the board did what we had to do within the parameters we were given,” he said. In response to the pandemic, the COVID relief fund was launched whereby BIA levies from the prior year were reimbursed to property owners, who in turn, generally forwarded the benefit to business owners. Emily Taylor came on as BIA administrative assistant in June, and “she’s been wonderful”. Next, the painting of the garbage cans throughout the town with various displays of artwork brought beauty to the downtown in a creative and unconventional way. Then finally, the Christmas Committee came through with a “Hallmark Christmas” look downtown with the hanging of garland. Hoare noted that a great amount of positive feedback was received with regards to the look of town during the Christmas season. Lastly, Hoare mentioned that the BIA Marketing Committee has benefitted this year from some particularly active committee members.

Treasurer Kyle Burnside then reviewed budget highlights for 2021 and this was favourably received. “2020 was certainly unprecedented... but we were able to keep a focus on opportunities and initatives that would boost the economy of our downtown businesses and the mental well-being of our community in St. Marys. I have to give a lot of credit to the people on the board for pulling together and seeing these initiatives through,” Burnside said. “Stepping into 2021, we’re seeing a lot of that foundational framework come to fruition through new sub-committees, and new vision as we look to our community for new ideas while looking for ways in which we can do things differently.”

The overall 2021 budget showed revenue of $47,500, consisting primarily of the annual BIA levy. This was consistent with prior years.

On the expense side, Burnside outlined that costs are allocated to four primary categories: Member Support and Engagement ($3,620); Improving Public Space and Beautification ($8,430, which includes flower baskets, Christmas lights maintenance, and various beautification 2021 initiatives); Bringing People Downtown ($17,500, a pillar that includes the Marketing & Communication Sub-Committee, Christmas Sub-Committee, Advertising, Santa Claus Parade sponsorship, and volunteer recognition); and Running the St. Marys BIA ($10,450, comprised of several items including admin support, HST, audit, and miscellaneous other costs). Between all four main categories, the BIA budget referenced total expenses of $40,000.

The BIA budget was unanimously approved by the board.

Spencer Seymour, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, St. Marys Independent