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Downtown BIA's big expansion plan delayed for now, but not abandoned.

Downtown BIA's big expansion plan delayed for now, but not abandoned

An expansion plan by the Downtown Timmins Business Improvement Area (BIA) has been put on hold due to opposition.

Objections to the proposed expansion came from store owners at the bottom of Third Avenue, a section of the street from Maple Street to Mountjoy Street.

One business owner in the area started a petition against the expansion.

Barb Reynolds, executive manager of the BIA, notes that, even if there is one objection, the BIA would have to present its expansion plans to the Ontario Municipal Board.

The BIA hopes to be able to avoid that process.

The plans fell through in April and will not be revived until the fall.

The BIA will begin to see the objectors in the fall to find out why they are opposed and to explain the benefits of the organization.

"Hopefully, in 1991, we will have the whole area included," Reynolds says.

Along with Third Avenue, the BIA had been planning to take in Second Avenue from Birch Street to Spruce Street, and Balsam and Birch streets from Algonquin Boulevard to Second Avenue. It would have also included a section of Mountjoy from Third Avenue to Algonquin Boulevard.

"We would have doubled the size of our BIA," says Reynolds.

She explains that some people believed they would receive nothing from becoming part of the BIA.

However, she argues that the organization would be able to improve the overall area. Once the businessmen realize that, she believes the BIA will be accepted.

The effectiveness of a BIA depends on everyone working together. Everyone must be willing to pitch in, since it is not a one-way street, she adds.

Reynolds thinks the expansion plans ran into trouble because the affected businessmen didn't understand what a BIA is all about.

If the expansion eventually goes ahead, the organization would encompass most of the downtown, she notes.

Algonquin Boulevard is not part of the expansion plans because it is more a highway than a downtown street, explains Reynolds.

Last year, an expansion of the BIA to include part of Spruce Street passed with no opposition.

There are currently 235 members in the BIA. If the proposed expansion eventually goes ahead, the membership would be about 315.

The BIA was formed in 1977 for just Third Avenue and it has grown from that base.

Previously, the organization had been known as the Timmins Merchants' Association.

REVITALIZE

The idea behind BIAs is to join businessmen in a specific geographic location together, with the help of their municipality, to organize, finance and carry out physical improvements and economic revitalization in their district.

The financing for a BIA is raised from a tax levied against the member businesses. The municipality collects the money as part of the business levy and it is turned over to the BIA to be used for local improvements.

The levy is the basic element of every BIA in the province. More than 200 business communities in the province, some with as few as 22 businesses and others with almost 2,000, have organized BIAs.

A BIA program usually involves improvements to the physical environment and appearance of the business area and economic re-development programs such as area-wide promotions and advertising campaigns.

Reynolds, who is the Northern Ontario representative on the board of directors of Ontario Downtowns, notes the provincial organization changed its name in May. It had been known as the Ontario Business Improvement Areas Association.

However, Reynolds says the old name gave the connotation that everything about the areas needs improvement.

The provincial organization now wants all the local BIAs to change their names to be more in line with the new provincial name.

Reynolds says a new name for the Timmins BIA has yet to be decided. However, it may be something like Timmins Downtown.
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Title Annotation:Timmins Report; Downtown Timmins Business Improvement Area
Author:Bickford, Paul
Publication:Northern Ontario Business
Date:Aug 1, 1990
Words:641
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