Does Ottawa Need BIAs?


The Ottawa Business Journal ran an interesting op-ed piece by Mischa Kaplan on the efficacy of business improvement areas:

Only time will tell whether the Kanata Central BIA will prove its worth. Certainly, there are some impressive success stories to act as promising precedent – for example, the Kanata North BIA (which acts as a micro-booster for Ottawa’s tech community) is often held up as a model of a successful economic development organization that punches far above its weight.

But for every BIA that functions with a clear mandate and produces impressive tangible economic results, there is another which struggles to create meaningful impact and value for its members.

In the majority of these cases, the problem is not with ineffective staff or a disengaged membership, but rather a lack of need for a BIA in the first place. There is undoubtedly an argument to be made that a BIA can have an immensely positive impact on a business community, but it is much more difficult to make the case that there is a one-size-fits-all solution to local economic development or that the BIA model is the ideal solution for every situation.

To read the whole article in the OBJ, click here.


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4 thoughts on “Does Ottawa Need BIAs?

  1. Whether a BIA does a good job or a lousy job is sometimes not the rub.

    Some independent business people, just plain and simple, do not like being told that membership in the BIA is mandatory. That is what, kind of, makes them independent. I once closed my office in a block that became part of a BIA and relocated one block north.

    It is mandatory that I pay income taxes, property taxes, gas taxes, HST etc. These fees support many things I disagree with and don’t support many things I see as needs. Short of going to jail or losing my buildings, I have no recourse but to pay. I do not need someone taking another fee. It isn’t that I am a miser. I just spread my money leftovers where I see the need. What I see as a need isn’t going to agree with what you see as a need so please leave me out of your BIA.

    I started a ratepayers association many, many years ago. It is still up and running today but membership is voluntary. Oh, what an operating budget we could have had if membership was mandatory,

    Opt me out of your BIA’s.

  2. On the subject of mandatory.

    Look up why there was then there wasn’t and now there is an ” h ” at the end of Pittsburgh. This segues me into my crystal ball mode. Who must win this round in the playoffs. It is obvious that Ottawa has Senators and no h, but Pittsburgh has no stinkin’ penguins and an h.

    So with this combination of factors (phony h’s and nonexistent birds- note the second phony h in phony) Ottawa will be the ultimate winner.

    Good luck and skoal,

  3. How about supporting community improvement areas. The BIA works for business sometimes to the detriment of community. Example: The Glebe BIA. It allowed shopping through the holidays to the detriment of community in my view.

  4. I don’t think BIAs deliver on their mandate in most areas around Ottawa, and the success stories are very much the exception and not the rule. Whether BIAs are a bad idea or just implemented poorly, I’m not sure.


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