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. We have developed a brochure to promote ALL of our downtown businesses, whether they are retail stores, restaurants, chiropractors, or realtors. This brochure is distributed downtown, as well as on the ferry, to get as many new people into our 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.
There are 85 commercial properties in the SDBA, each of which used to pay a flat fee of $525 per year, regardless of their size, or number of businesses on premises. In 2017, we moved to 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. The District of Sechelt has 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 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 $ 411.05
2-5 Businesses $ 349.39
6-10 Businesses $ 308.29
11+ Businesses $ 246.63
Under this replacement levy scheme, all small one-business commercial properties (approximately 54% of the BIA properties) saw a decrease of their levy by 16%. Properties with 2 businesses (25% of properties) saw a 43% increase in their total levy for the property. The remaining larger properties saw more substantial increases on their total levy. This new levy structure resulted 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 (as many other BIA’s in BC use); 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 our member businesses and property owners in Downtown Sechelt.