BIA Levy Changes
The Sechelt Downtown Business Association (SDBA) is a Business Improvement Area for Downtown Sechelt. The SDBA’s mission is to create a unique, vibrant, and attractive downtown, for merchants and visitors alike.
The SDBA promotes Downtown Sechelt as a business area, not just as a group of individual shops, restaurants and offices. We promote Downtown Sechelt as a whole to attract new businesses and support existing businesses. Promotional activities include special events and ongoing advertising programs, which aim to keep the Downtown Sechelt foremost in the public’s mind as an attractive, pleasant place to shop, to play, to work and to live.
The SDBA hosts four major special events every year to bring people to Downtown Sechelt, and to experience the shops and services available. We currently host the Spring Business Fair, Canada Day, Oktoberfest, and the Christmas Celebrations. At each of these events, the volunteer organizers leverage sponsors and event revenue to keep costs down, while featuring local businesses as much as possible.
The SDBA also works with the District of Sechelt to improve Downtown Sechelt. Many of the signs, banners, planters, and lights in Downtown Sechelt were developed through collaborations between the District of Sechelt and the SDBA. Just last year we engaged an artist to paint a mural on the wall at the Pharmasave parking lot, and this year we hope revitalize and expand the Sechelt Downtown Public WiFi network. We are also developing a brochure to promote ALL of our downtown businesses, whether they are retail stores, restaurants, chiropractors, or realtors. This brochure will be distributed downtown, as well as on the ferry, to get as many new people downtown as possible.
We also advocate for businesses in Downtown Sechelt. Recently we have taken stances on the sign bylaw, new developments in downtown, and on improving parking in Downtown Sechelt. Our shared voice means that we can provide greater influence on policy at the District of Sechelt to create the type of Downtown that will allow existing businesses to thrive and to be a more attractive location for new businesses. We help promote Sechelt as a thriving community, so all our store fronts can be full, and to reinforce that we are the Heart of the Sunshine Coast.
Currently there are 85 commercial properties in the SDBA, each of which pay a flat fee of $525 per year, regardless of their size, or number of businesses on premises. We are proposing a tiered levy system utilizing the number of active business licenses on a property to ensure that everyone contributes more fairly to the funding of the organization.
Under the flat rate system, the SDBA generated $44,625 in levy revenue in 2016 and received an additional $14,500 in grants for Canada Day and Christmas from the District of Sechelt. Mayor and council have indicated that they would prefer that the grant system was used by one-off events, or new initiatives from organizations. We were suggested to increase our levy in order to meet our operational needs, and our annual budget process has identified $70,000 as our optimal annual revenue. This should allow for growth over the next five years and increased activities without relying on constant council handouts.
Tier System Per Business (2017 Estimated)
1 Business $ 440.50
2-5 Businesses $ 374.43
6-10 Businesses $ 330.38
11+ Businesses $ 264.30
Under this replacement levy scheme, all small one-business commercial properties (approximately 54% of the BIA properties) will see a decrease of their levy by 16%. Properties with 2 businesses (25% of properties) will see a 43% increase in their total levy. The remaining larger properties will see significant increases on their total levy. This new levy structure will result in the majority of properties in Downtown Sechelt not being significantly impacted by these changes.
The tiered nature of this levy structure recognizes that businesses occupying small, low density properties receive the most direct benefit from the SDBA. Discounts for larger properties both encourage higher density of businesses, and also recognizes that many properties that are higher density also have tend to have second floor office space and also tend to have their own specialized marketing programs.
Other pricing schemes that were considered included street frontage and assessed property value, however the SDBA Board in conjunction with the District of Sechelt determined that the fairest way to assess a new levy would be through the number of business licenses on each property. This scheme does not penalize building improvements, or properties that just happen to be on an intersection, while ensuring that every business contributes a similar amount to our operations.
Sechelt is a very unique place to live, work, and play. It’s of critical importance that we work together to help improve our downtown, but also to show that we’re here for our community, and that we’re here for each other. That is how we will achieve long term financial stability for businesses and properties in Downtown Sechelt.
The SDBA will be holding an information session on the levy changes:
March 23 at 6:00 pm in the Community Resource Room at Sechelt Municipal Hall
We will have Peter Vaisbord, the City of Vancouver BIA Coordinator, as a guest for the evening, and together we will be available to answer questions you may have on the changes, as well as the work the SDBA and BIA’s in general do to improve our community.
You may also call the SDBA office at 604-885-9611 with any other questions you may have.