Wingham BIA holds AGM

WINGHAM – Wingham’s Business Improvement Association (BIA) held its annual general meeting (AGM) on Feb. 16 in the Knights of Columbus Lounge at the North Huron Wescast Community Complex.

During the meeting, BIA Chair Dave Tiffin and Treasurer Doug Kuyvenhoven unveiled the town’s new banners, which will hang in the downtown core of Wingham.

The 25 banners, tastefully decorated with musical notes and instruments, will hang intermittently on the 50 posts there; the other posts will fly the Canadian flag banners.

Kuyvenhoven said that banners were paid for out of last year’s budget; an unexpected delay prevented them from being unveiled in 2022. The new banners will be put up in June.

Also unveiled was North Huron’s free postermap guide to North Huron, Blyth, and Wingham. This was a collaboration between the Wingham BIA and the Advance Times. The postermaps are available at all participating retailers now.

Plans for downtown improvement in 2023 include replacing the benches with new, more efficient seats and refurbishing the old, battered ones, which will then be strategically placed along the Wingham trail.

The Christmas Gnomes had their final year in 2022; the BIA will explore new ideas for the 2023 season.

Volunteers will install flower boxes again this year at participating stores, and downtown beautification will continue.

“We are considering some other projects, but nothing is definite at this point,” said Tiffin. “Some things that have been discussed are security cameras in particular areas, historical clocks on some buildings, Josephine Street Wi-Fi, and the Alice Munro display at the library. We will continue to align with the Wingham Community Connectors to promote events and positive aspects of Wingham.”

Demetri Makrakos, North Huron’s economic development officer, outlined some constitutional changes to the Wingham and Blyth BIAs for approval. However, any constitutional changes must go before North Huron council for final approval.

One change was structural, Makrakos said.

“The idea here was Wingham BIA and the Blyth BIA had different structures, different formats, although it was saying the same thing in a lot of parts,” said Makrakos. “Just for easier navigation of the constitutions that people were referring to, we just made sure that we formatted them so that they had the exact same structure.”

Makrakos presented an idea at the meeting that would see changes to the boundaries of the BIA. Currently, the area covered by the BIA includes industrial, highway commercial, and the main street.

“Right now, the current levy is $29,000 with 128 members,” said Makrakos. “The proposed area would be reducing it and allowing industrial businesses the option to be an associate member, if they still want to participate in BIA activities.”

There would be a slight decrease of $2,700 in the levy, which did not concern the BIA members as they have already received 15 associate member registrations, bringing in $1,500 in revenue, and more businesses are expected to register.

Awards were given to the 2022 new businesses in town: Teeny, Tiny Tots; Sunnyside Grill; Castings Public House; Maitland Auctions; Mikalo Furnishings and Decor; Noah’s Pizza; Riverview Local Eatery; Duck, Duck, Juice; Pet Valu; and Cornerstone Pizza. Each business will receive a framed certificate from the BIA.

A special award was given to Green’s Meat Market, in what Tiffen hopes will be a “one-time award, recognizing Greens Meat Market for the resilience and determination to rebuild and reopen within a year of a devastating fire.”

Civic improvement awards were given to Fogal’s Your Independent Grocer and Kentucky Fried Chicken for redoing the exterior of their buildings. Maitland Family Dental received also received an award for putting in a new ramp and an accessible entrance.

Tiffin then announced the 2022 Volunteer of the Year.

“Volunteer of the Year doesn’t always go to a BIA member. It can be someone who has helped the BIA and projects to promote the town,” said Tiffin. “This year, however, it does go to a BIA member and to someone who put in a lot of extra time on retail projects in 2022, coming up with a lot of new ideas. Unfortunately, we are losing this person from the BIA board, but she has agreed to continue working on the graphics for the LED sign and maybe advertising.”

Ashley Vander Velden, co-owner of Naturally Bongins, is the 2022 Volunteer of the Year. She looks forward to working with the BIA as a volunteer in the future but will no longer be on the board.

“I want to thank everybody for including me in this and I appreciate all of your support,” Vander Velden said. “I can’t wait to work with you guys in the future.”

The 2023 BIA Board members will be announced after final approval from North Huron council.

Cory Bilyea, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Wingham Advance Times