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Aldershot’s Business Improvement Area (BIA) is hoping to grow in 2022. The BIA, which currently only represents businesses along the Plains Road corridor, wants to increase its boundary and jurisdiction.

Executive Director Judy Worsley reports that the BIA hopes to add businesses on Spring Gardens Road and Botanical Dive near the RBG, King Road north of Plains, and the streets adjacent to the GO station including Cooke Boulevard, Waterdown Road and Masonry Court.

The BIA has received calls from businesses on some of these streets inquiring as to why they are not members. The calls have increased during the pandemic as small businesses look for guidance and support.

“We’re basically responding to a need. As Aldershot grows new businesses need help starting up. That’s where the BIA can be extremely helpful assisting new businesses to get connected with the community”, said Worsley in a year end interview.

The proposed expansion is not just about the businesses, however, it’s part of the effort to maintain a strong community according to Worsley.

“Research shows that, during Covid, neighbourhoods that had BIAs survived better than areas without a BIA. The reason is that the BIA advocated for them, kept them advised about government grants and got the information out to them. There was a place they could turn to”.

Proposed expansion near Aldershot GO station

Proposed expansion area on Spring Gardens Road and Botanical Drive

The process to expand a BIA boundary is somewhat cumbersome. The BIA must take its request to the City. The City then sends out notices of the proposed expansion to all existing BIA members as well as potential members within the new boundary areas. They have 60 days to respond. If at least one-third of the total number of businesses object the expansion can not be approved by City Council.

Worsley and her team are planning a series of public meetings in 2022 to discuss the expansion and to promote the benefits of BIA membership. The goal is to complete the process before 2023. “I have a feeling this is going to take a long time”, she predicted.

The Aldershot Village Business Improvement Area started a dozen years ago and has about two-hundred members along with a permanent office on Plains Road. Since its inception it has been involved in a variety of community improvement projects while at the same time promoting, supporting and advocating for local businesses. Most recently, the BIA hosted the annual Aldershot Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony which was attended by hundreds of nearby residents.

Property owners within the BIA boundary pay a levy to support the BIA, the amount of which depends on their size.

By Rick Craven

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