The Aldershot Village Business Improvement Area (BIA) is moving ahead with an 8.3% increase in its budget for 2021. City Councillors approved the increase at a recent committee meeting. The figure represents a $17,075 bump in spending over 2020 and brings the total BIA levy to $223,00.
The levy is paid by the 250 merchants or property owners along the Plains Road corridor who are members of the BIA.
“We’re one of the lowest levies in Ontario, compared to other BIAs our size” said Executive Director Judy Worsley in an interview.
According to a City report the main reasons for the increased expenditure are the “increased importance of a virtual and social media presence, a stronger emphasis on the members needs and a requirement to connect personally with members during the pandemic”.
Worsley explained that during the past year local merchants have become increasingly dependent on the BIA for information about Covid, government grants and legislative restrictions. Her team has been busy with social media, newsletters and zoom, trying to keep members up to date.
“The BIA is needed more than ever before”, said Worsley.
In order to respond to the growing demand for its help and guidance the BIA is planning to hire a part time membership coordinator to further strengthen its contacts with local business.
Worsley points out the BIA is even getting calls from Aldershot merchants who are not BIA members. Consequently, the BIA is considering an expansion of its boundary beyond Plains Road. It wants to service all the businesses in Aldershot including those on Spring Gardens Road, Waterdown Road, King Road and the North Service Road.
Possible boundary expansion
Expansion of a BIA boundary is a complex process that ultimately requires city hall approval. Worsley said her team will begin working on the expansion plan soon and hopes to complete the process by the end of the year.
Worsley says her members are grateful for community support of the BIA.
“Our Aldershot businesses are surviving because of the support from the Aldershot community. Residents are very loyal to the local stores. They have really done a lot to sustain the businesses during this difficult time”
In 2021 the BIA will repeat some of its most popular events including its street markets and annual Christmas tree lighting.
The BIA’s annual meeting will be held virtually on March 25th.
By Rick Craven