by Debbie Wilson

As the outgoing Chair of the BIA, I would like to thank the Board of Management for their devoted service this past year. As you are all aware, their time is freely given to the cause of improving our downtown and the entire community of Kemptville. Not only do they donate their time for meetings, they also undertake the other tasks and activities needed to support the growth and success of downtown businesses. The members of the outgoing Board are: Blair Hamilton, Connie Lamble, Kim Smalridge, Lee McIlvenna, Paul Cormier, Stephen Bent and me. Our municipal Council member was Donovan Arnaud. I have been supported this past year by an active Executive Committee, who met between Board meetings to ensure that the work of the Board is carried out. They consisted of Stephen Bent, Treasurer and Paul Cormier, Secretary. Our Vice Chair, Chris Melnick-MacDonald was unable to continue with the Board and Executive as Vice-Chair due to business demands. We are highly supportive of Chris and his family who recently experienced the tragedy of the loss of their home by fire. Our other committees have been very active as well: the Expansion Committee, chaired by our Treasurer Stephen Bent, our Events Committee chaired by Kim Smalridge and our Downtown Parking Committee, chaired by Connie Lamble. So, every member of the BIA Board and every Committee Chair worked hard in making the dream of a thriving downtown come true. I appreciate and thank each and every one of you as the community developers that you are.

We have been blessed with a great deal of help from John Barclay, our outgoing Executive Director, whose sustained effort and hard work made our success possible. He has now been recognized by the electing public and is one of our new Municipal Councillors. Congratulations, John and sincere thanks for a job well done. The new Board will be proceeding to the staffing of a new Executive Director immediately after their election and the election naming of an Executive Committee.

Our financial management under the direction of Stephen Bent has received the stalwart support of a volunteer, Andrew Beveridge who, quietly in the background, has been giving us advice and assistance in ensuring that we are fiscally accountable in every respect. Thank you, Andrew. By the way, John Barclay expertly secured funding for activities from the Eastern Ontario Development Program (the EODP) aimed at supplementing the BIA’s small budget. We also received tremendous help from corporate sponsors outside of the footprint that indicates broader community support for our downtown: Westerra Homes and Robert Noseworthy, James Street Writing Company and Erica Cuccaro, Pringle Brothers Construction and Neil Pringle, MacEwen Petroleum and Allan McEvoy, and Black Creek Innovations with Stephanie Gilmer. A special note that both BIA members as well as Associate Members gave generously of their time and money. Thanks to you all!

I also wish to highlight the support of Matt Gilmer our Municipal staff representative, who has supported us through thick and thin in this past year. Matt, many thanks for all of your hard work on behalf of the BIA. The office of the Municipal Clerk has been instrumental in helping develop a strong governance practice for our BIA: Cahl Pominville and Katie Valentin have both contributed to this effort and we thank them both.

With a new Council, we are confident that there will be an improvement in our important relationship with the Municipality. After all, the BIA is an officially constituted Committee of the Municipal Council. With a new Council, we fully expect that the committee status of the BIA will be recognized and respected and that effective governance and a cordial relationship will prevail.

What have been the accomplishments of the BIA this past year? Some of them include:
1. Increased engagement with the community through traditional media, social media and a subscriber-based newsletter
2. Greater marketing and promotion of the downtown as a social and commercial hub;
3. Attraction and growth of new businesses and the expansion of existing ones;
4. Active support of major events such as Kemptville Live and of community partners, such as the Kemptville Farmers’ Market;
5. Continued support of family-friendly activities, such as the recent highly successful Kreepy Kemptville;
6. An active and successful Pop-up-Shop program, which will continue into fiscal year 2019.

These were all planned and supported by a transparent Business Plan and budget for the BIA prepared in a work session professionally facilitated by Paul Cormier, our Secretary. And so, I believe that we are now facing new opportunities as we move forward into 2019.

At the Annual General Meeting on 21 November, members will be nominating, seconding and voting for nine members of their business community to act as a Board of Management for the Old Town Kemptville Business Improvement Area. These good people will be joined by a Municipal Councillor who will round out the number of Board members to a total of 10, as confirmed in the new BIA By-Law of 2016. In turn, the Board of Management will then elect its new Chair, Vice Chair, Treasurer and Secretary at the first meeting of the Board in December. The entire new Board will then proceed to prepare the 2019 Business Plan and budget for presentation to the new Municipal Council.

We then look forward to another active year of downtown improvements and economic development. Come one come all to our great downtown!


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