The actual reason behind the challenges facing this BIA just might have to do with the fact that the businesses in question find themselves facing what has been rightfully called a multi-lane highway.
By Azher Siddiqui
Published January 12, 2016
At tomorrow's General Issues Committee Meeting, Hamilton City Councillors will review and discuss the Proposed Budget and Schedule of Payment for 2016 for a number of Hamilton's Business Improvement Areas (BIA). [It is not possible to link directly to the report, since the City's meeting website is an unusable quagmire, but the BIA budget reports can be found under section 8, items 8.3 through 8.9, in the above link.] Notably, the Main West Esplanade BIA has no budget for 2016.
Main Street West (RTH file photo)
In fact, this BIA's status is "dormant" or "inactive" because of an apparent lack of participation or interest in the work of this BIA from the businesses owners on that stretch of Main Street, which spans from Dundurn Street to Hess Street. According to item 8.9 on the meeting agenda:
[A]s a result of the inactivity of the Main West Esplanade Business Improvement Area (BIA) ... which had not submitted a budget for Council's approval in two years, City Staff would schedule a meeting of the BIA's members as per the City of Hamilton's Dormant Business Improvement Area Status Procedure (Dormancy Procedure).
According to the Dormancy Procedure:
All functions of the BIA cease to exist. The material assets would be held in storage as determined by the City. The funds in the BIAs bank account would be transferred to the City and held in an account. Financial incentives available to active BIAs would not be available to non-active BIAs.
How surprising. How unfortunate. I would hazard a guess that the actual reason behind the challenges facing this BIA just might have to do with the fact that the businesses in question find themselves facing what has been rightfully called a multi-lane highway.
Main West Esplanade BIA map
Urban retail businesses naturally can't operate on a highway. Certainly, most of the other BIAs - who do have a budget for this year - operate on two-way or at least more complete streets in their districts.
Conveniently, there is no mention in the rationale/analysis section of the report to council that the one-way highway design could be potentially be a problem for business improvement.
All Hamiltonians have a stake in the success of BIAs. Not only do our taxpayer dollars go toward supporting the various BIA projects and undertakings, but so long as the city lacks a good commercial tax base, residents will continue to be the "go to" source for tax revenue.
Not to mention the continued missed opportunity for a better quality of life (job opportunities, decrease crime rates, less air pollution, etc.) that thriving businesses can help achieve in the neighbourhoods in which they exist.
Although long overdue, perhaps now is finally the time, in light of planing for light rail transit (LRT), to make Main Street whole and wholesome again.
To that end, I encourage you to please take the opportunity to email your councillor, especially if you live in Ward 1 or 2, to express your disappointment at what is effectively the failure of the Main West Esplanade BIA to meet its mandate, and to state that Main needs to be made into a complete street in order to have any chance of remedying the problem.
Although the implementation of LRT may require this to happen in the end anyway, it cannot hurt do to our part to keep the pressure on.
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