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Coquitlam's only BIA wants to renew for five years. Will property owners sign on?

Nearly 70 property owners within the Austin Heights Business Improvement Association (BIA) jurisdiction will be canvassed by the city next month about the upcoming costs.

Commercial property owners in Coquitlam's Austin Heights will be polled next month about the future of the neighbourhood's business improvement association (BIA).

The city is set to canvass 69 owners — whose land is located between Blue Mountain and Gatensbury streets and Austin and Ridgeway avenues — to see who doesn't want to move forward with the BIA’s mandate and budget for the next five years.

Last month, the BIA's volunteer board of directors voted unanimously in favour of the 2023–2028 financial plan:

  • 2023–2024 = $268,809 (up 12%)
  • 2024–2025 = $301,066 (up 12%)
  • 2025–2026 = $331,173 (up 10%)
  • 2026–2027 = $357,666 (up 8%)
  • 2027–2028 = $386,280 (up 8%)

In early January, after BC Assessment releases its 2022 valuations, area property owners within the BIA jurisdiction will be mailed a counter-petition (vote against); the city letter will also state how much they will be required to pay to support the BIA's programming.

Funds from the property owners will be collected by the city at property tax time in July and remitted to the BIA.

The estimated 2023 levy, using 2022 assessments, is $0.8886/$1,000 of assessed value.

A total of 289 businesses are located within the Austin Heights boundaries; property owners typically pass all or part of the annual BIA levy to the tenants as part of the leasing fee agreements, wrote deputy city manager Raul Allueva in a report.

Oldest commercial district

Last month, Lisa Landry, executive director of the Austin Heights BIA, told council that the organization's mandate is up on Dec. 31, 2022, and needs to be formally renewed.

And she listed its recent accomplishments to keep Coquitlam's oldest commercial district safe and welcoming.

These include graffiti removal, security, street banners, holiday lights, cigarette recycling receptacles and the Coquitlam Munch.

Landry said the inaugural HollyDaze, an outdoor winter gathering to showcase the area on Nov. 19, drew twice the crowd that organizers expected — about 2,300 visitors.

The BIA also partnered with Tri-Local, a collective that includes the Tri-Cities Chamber of Commerce and the Tri-City News, as well as Hub Cycling and the City of Coquitlam — the latter for a summer pop-up park in front of Safeway.

As for 2023 activities, the BIA will split the costs with the municipality for two gateway signs along Austin Avenue to promote the shopping district.

It also hopes to add customized street sign blades with "Austin Heights" at the top, add public art, erect a Christmas tree and launch a parade to kick off HollyDaze.

Landry also pointed out the area's revitalization, which includes a new Safeway and residential towers.

"I think our Austin Heights BIA has done a spectacular job of raising awareness in the area," Coun. Dennis Marsden said at the Dec. 12 council meeting, in support of the BIA’s five-year renewal.

"I think it’s a great example of the community and the local businesses stepping up to add vibrancy to an area," added Coun. Matt Djonlic, who used to work in Austin Heights.

"I wish we could see more of that throughout the city."