Back To Basics


by Deron Johnson

Despite considerable efforts by the current and previous Boards of Management, many people still don’t clearly understand what exactly a Business Improvement Area (BIA) is and what it does. Let’s review some of the key elements of what BIAs are, what they do, how they work, how they’re funded and what the benefits are of being a part of one.

What Are They?

Here’s how the website of the Ontario Business Improvement Area Association defines what a BIA is: “A Business Improvement Area (BIA) is a “made-in-Ontario” innovation that allows local businesspeople and commercial property owners and tenants to join together and, with the support of the municipality, to organize, finance, and carry out physical improvements and promote economic development in their district. Traditionally, a BIA is a body established by a municipality and is governed by a Board of Management. The term BIA is used to generally describe that board. The legislation states they are LOCAL boards or committees of council. People also refer to the geographic area designated by a municipality for a BIA as the BIA.”

How Does a BIA Work?

A BIA is run by a volunteer Board of Management elected from its members. The Board is nominated at an Annual General Meeting and, once approved by municipal council, serves a four-year term concurrent with the term of Council. The Board works on behalf of its members and meets monthly to develop budgets, set priorities, implement & encourage beautification efforts, plan events, oversee day-to-day operations of the organization and promote the area as a whole.

How is a BIA Funded?

Once the BIA members approve the budget and municipal council approves it, funds are raised through a special levy on all commercial and industrial properties within the BIA’s boundary or footprint. Calculation of this levy is based on the proportionate value of each property’s commercial and/or industrial assessment (MPAC). Once the Municipality collects the levy, it forwards the funds to the BIA to manage.

If you ever have any questions about BIAs or are simply curious about what’s happening Downtown, just send us an email at [email protected] and we’ll add you to the mailing list for our email newsletter. There’s always something going on in Downtown Kemptville.



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