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Five more years, asks Coquitlam biz association
Coquitlam's only business improvement association has come to the end of its mandate. And now, it's asking for another five years.
On Monday, members of the Austin Heights BIA will hear from city council whether it can extend its work for the 300-plus members it represents along Austin and Ridgeway avenues, between Blue Mountain and Gatensbury streets.
Since 2007, the BIA has received $102,000 annually from the city — money collected via levies through property taxes paid by BIA members — for beautification, marketing and security programs as well as for its Daisy Days festival.
But the executive wants about $3,700 more per year — an additional 3% annually — for each of the next five years to continue with its improvement projects (the proposed budget was unanimously approved by BIA members at a meeting in September).
"Our organization is really healthy," executive director Erin Davidson said. "We have an incredible board and I think that's the reason that we have been so successful."
The past five years "were foundation building and we were slow to grow," she said, noting the BIA spent much of its time compiling a list of area businesses and property owners as well as working with the city as it updated the Austin Heights Neighbourhood Plan, which calls for major revitalization and densification, including highrises along Austin Avenue.
As well, the BIA has been busy cleaning up the commercial zone, adding street banners, removing graffiti and hiring a security firm to patrol businesses part-time.
Davidson has also pounded the streets to ensure business owners are on the same page while board volunteers have worked with city staff on upcoming development applications to ensure adequate landscaping, parking and designs are in place for future buildings and that businesses and customers are not adversely affected by construction, she said.
As for the next five years, the BIA hopes to have a Business Watch program with Coquitlam RCMP and to improve on community connections as Austin Heights rejuvenates.
"With the development that is happening very quickly, there will be a prominent change in the area," said BIA president Owen Coomer, manager of the John B. Pub. "Safeway will be torn down [and rebuilt]. There will be more foot traffic. And we're going to help maintain the businesses to keep customers coming."