WALKERTON – The Walkerton BIA is holding an information session on Wednesday, Aug. 18 at 6:30 p.m. at the Walkerton Community Centre.
This is an in-person meeting, with face coverings and physical distancing required as per public health requirements for protection against COVID-19.
The purpose is to explore options to determine the future direction of the BIA. All members are encouraged to attend and provide their input.
Jessie Bates, president, said the last 20 months have been challenging for the BIA, with public health restrictions due to COVID-19. At the same time, there have been some dramatic successes – Walkerton Dollars, last year’s delightful Christmas Market, Shop Walkerton and Win, and the recent Shop the Main Street.
“I’m hopeful lots of people will come to the meeting and voice their opinions,” said Bates. “We want to see what the levied members want. There’s lots to discuss.”
The Municipality of Brockton’s Facebook page noted the BIA’s board of directors created a new vision for the BIA early in 2021, but the resignation of the manager has led to the question of “whether the current BIA model best serves our business community. We want your input!”
There are a number of options to be considered. One is to dissolve the BIA, which is governed by a board of directors, with municipal council approving the budget and certain other items such as board structure. The BIA is funded through a mandatory levy assessed within the geographic boundaries set by council. If the BIA were dissolved, there would be no levy, nor would there be special promotions and events, or a coordinating body representing the business community.
Another is to establish a chamber of commerce. Membership is voluntary, with fees set by a board of directors. It would be a separate non-profit organization and would not be a local board of the municipality. A possible benefit would be the ability to represent businesses outside Walkerton.
A third option would be to dissolve the BIA and create a separate committee to organize events and promotions. It could be informal, or operate as a committee of council. While there would be no levy, there would have to be fundraising for any events or promotions. The success of a committee would rest solely on volunteer efforts.
Dissolving the BIA isn’t the only option. There is also the possibility of a streamlined BIA with smaller boundaries, perhaps for downtown businesses only. This may reduce the need for an office and full-time staff, with more money available for promotions and events.
There may also be options that haven’t been considered. If you have an idea, come to the meeting and present it, or contact the municipal office.
Pauline Kerr, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Walkerton Herald Times