Windsor city council temporarily taking over all BIAs, prompting disappointment, frustration
Windsor city council agreed to temporarily take over all nine of the Business Improvement Associations (BIA) during a closed door meeting Monday night.
For the next 60 days, city council appointed itself to the BIA boards as it examines how those elections are conducted, how financial matters are handled and how membership is determined, among other things. Council is also looking to create a uniform governance structure that would apply across all nine BIAs.
The decision hasn't been made public by the city. CBC News became aware after receiving a copy of the letter sent to BIAs informing them of the latest development.
Shane Potvin, chair of the Ford City BIA, said he was very frustrated, deflated and disappointed after receiving notice council will be taking over all BIAs.
"It's huge because this is all about promotion of the neighbourhood. We are an up-and-coming neighbourhood," said Potvin. "We still have lots of empty space. We are in the middle of a resurgence, but also it is crucial right now for us to promote the neighbourhood ... and if our hands are tied, it's really tough."
That's a core function of any BIA — to entice businesses to invest in the area and attract locals to come shop.
CBC News has reached out to the office of Windsor mayor Drew Dilkens and was referred to the city's chief administrative officer.
Transparency, accountability drove decision: CAO
CAO Onorio Colucci said the step was taken in order to ensure all BIAs are operating in line with established procedures so that council — which funds these organizations — can properly oversee them.
"Council has to make sure that there's full transparency, accountability, proper procedures are in place," he said.
Colucci said there was no evidence of wrongdoing, nor any specific instance, that led to this decision, but noted that similar concerns were highlighted through an audit years ago.
Council will be working with the BIAs to develop a "template" to ensure compliance with procedures, he said.
He stressed that the measure council has taken would be temporary.
Ward 9 Coun. Kieran McKenzie voted against the move but said he supports the idea of creating "uniformity" around governance of the BIAs.
He wants to see standardization across the BIAs around issues such as membership eligibility, elections and conflicts of interest.
But said he didn't think the "dramatic" step council took was warranted.
"They're very serious. But I don't think that they're serious enough for us to have taken the measures or of the steps that we have."