Business

Form Kenilworth BIA: Merulla

By RTH Staff
Published November 08, 2008

Ward 4 Councillor Sam Merulla issued a press release calling on businesses on Kenilworth Avenue North to initiate a Business Improvement Area (BIA). Noting several new businesses opening in Ward 4 over the past few years, including the Loews on Barton, the conversion of Centre Mall into a big box complex, and the revitalization of Ottawa Street North, Merulla pointed out that Kenilworth has missed out on this new investment.

He is asking Kenilworth businesses to start a BIA voluntarily but adds, "If this voluntary endeavour fails I will then simply impose the BIA on Kenilworth Ave North in an attempt to carry on with the incredible momentum we in Ward 4 are experiencing."

This provoked a response from Ward 2 Councillor Bob Bratina, who replied, "It is not possible under the legislation to order the creation of a BIA."

Merulla countered that he believes it is possible, based on his research.

According to the Ontario Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing (MMAH), a BIA "allows local business people and property owners to join together and with the support of the municipality, to organize, finance and carry out physical improvement and promote economic development in their district. The local municipality is the body that is responsible for approving the budget of the BIA."

The MMAH publishes a Business Improvement Area Handbook that explains the legalities of starting and running a BIA. The section on the role of the municipal council reads, "Initial interest and effort must come from local business leaders. However, council and municipal staff can play a significant role in helping a BIA to get off the ground by providing a venue for local business leaders to get together to discuss possible strategies for revitalizing their local community. [emphasis added]"

However, in the section on starting a BIA, the Handbook reads, "It is a municipal bylaw that formally creates a BIA. Prior to the passing of this bylaw, the municipality must issue a notice of intention to pass the bylaw to property owners in the affected area designated as industrial or commercial."

If at least one-third of the business owners in the area object to the proposed BIA and they are responsible for at least one-third of the commercial/industrial tax levy for the area, the municipality cannot pass a bylaw establishing it.

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By jason (registered) | Posted November 08, 2008 at 08:40:19

incredible momentum on Kenilworth??? Please show me where Sam. I'd love to check it out.

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By johnweston9@hotmail.com (anonymous) | Posted November 08, 2008 at 12:19:24

I am writing you as someone who has been forced on to a bia that it is as far as i am concerned the worst thing to get involed in. To have something else forced on to youre tax bill by the city you must have youre head examined.I am paying $1305.00 a year and someone else is paying $93.24 a year. Please don,t hesitate to contact me.
thank You

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By Frank (registered) | Posted November 10, 2008 at 12:13:20

He's talking about momentum in the area. The not so smart part comes when he says, "If this voluntary endeavour fails I will then simply impose the BIA on Kenilworth Ave North...". That's saying that if an area doesn't grow on it's own I'll try to force it to grow. Give me a break. Can't you find anything better to do Sam? There's gotta be something else to storm around about?

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By seen it happen (anonymous) | Posted November 10, 2008 at 16:21:24

I once lived and worked in a small ontario town.There was a BIA in place but the large box stores still moved in.I recall there was 6 vacant stores on the main street,and the store where i worked became the 7th.The owner said because of hard times already,with the box stores to compete with,it wasn't worth keeping the business open with the lease payments and the BIA fees..Seems to me it was the BIA fees were the last straw.guess one should be careful for what one wishes for!!

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By jason (registered) | Posted November 10, 2008 at 17:58:12

I don't think the idea of a BIA is bad. Kenilworth needs all the help it can get and a bunch of big box stores won't cut it.

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By johnweston9@hotmail.com (anonymous) | Posted November 13, 2008 at 17:27:13

When youre taxes get so high after the BIA fees are added on, you will have to charge more than the big box stores for youre product.People will go there to save money.After you loose those customers and realize that youre taxes plus BIA fees still have to be paid because the city can assume youre building for BIA fees not paid because it is now part of youre tax bill.On Locke Street there is only 16 building owners involved. The bars and cafes and the well known coffee shop aren,t involved because they are on the part of the street that didn,t want to be. I have been forced to pay the most at $1305.00 while another person pays under one hundred dollars.I tried to be removed and was told by my councilor that its time to move on.If you would like to move to Locke Street and pay these kind of fees please email me.

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By jason (registered) | Posted November 13, 2008 at 17:52:40

hey john, my suggestion that Kenilworth could use a BIA was purely in reference to the need to 'improve business' in that area. It's hurting, despite what Sam Merulla says. I feel for you and your plight on Locke. It's certainly not fair the way that BIA was rolled out. It sounds like it was more of a pet project by a few people on the street. There's no need for it on Locke. Maybe 25 years ago there was a need, but not now. Areas like King East/West downtown have benefitted from having a BIA. But the financial set-up of the system needs to be looked at. You are being royally hosed.

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By Fred Street (anonymous) | Posted April 04, 2011 at 08:59:57

Drove past Kenilworth yesterday – seems like there's some new construction near the Main East side of things.

Looked like the Kel-Main Building was under wraps...

http://www.flickr.com/photos/-jm/531047

...and there's a three-storey project (added storey to the existing building shell) at Main and Crossthwaite.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/-jm/5310470773

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