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New board pitches BIA for Coquitlam side of North Road

A new BIA is planned for the Coquitlam side of North Road — a busy corridor that borders Burnaby and New Westminster.

A new business improvement association (BIA) is being proposed for the Coquitlam side of North Road.

And the aim of the Coquitlam North Road BIA is not only to support local companies operating along the route but also to address crime, the group's board chair Owen Coomer and vice chair Vanessa Wideski said.

On Monday, Nov. 6, the pair appeared as a delegation before the city's council-in-committee to lay out the BIA plans for the Burquitlam and Lower Lougheed areas and to ask for seed money to launch the organization.

Specifically, the board is seeking $28,200 to conduct a reverse petition for the BIA to begin in April 2024.

"I know how vital it is to have a BIA along a corridor," said Coomer, the chief operating officer of the Taphouse Taverns and a former Austin Heights BIA president and board director, at the meeting.

Wideski said the massive redevelopment along North Road as a result of the introduction of SkyTrain in 2016, as well as the changing demographics, has prompted a drive to beautify the area, promote safety and boost economic spin-offs along arterial road — from the city's southern end to the Como Lake intersection.

Already, the advocacy group has made headway: In September, it hosted a meet and greet for the 300+ property and business owners, and a blue logo with a yellow SkyTrain line threading through "BIA" was also created.

With so many area land changes and so much cultural diversity, "there needs to be a unified voice," Coomer told the committee.

The new BIA is also being backed by major area landholders — Intergulf, Morguard and Anthem Properties — and the Burnaby North Road BIA; in August, that group hosted its first street festival at the City of Lougheed.

Eric Kalnins, Coquitlam's acting manager of economic development, told the Tri-City News today, Nov. 7, that the city's new economic development strategy supports the formation of BIA.

"City of Coquitlam staff will be working with the Coquitlam North Road BIA board to enter into a service agreement along with associated funding to initiate steps to further investigate the feasibility of a Coquitlam North Road BIA," Kalnins said.

According to its presentation, the BIA would need a total of $1.2 million to operate over the next five years:

  • 2024–2025: $230,000
  • 2025–2026: $238,050
  • 2026–2027 $246,382
  • 2027–2028: $255,005
  • 2028–2029: $263,930

Its first order of business, if approved by the membership paying the BIA levies, would be to hire an executive director to find out what the area challenges are and finding solutions with agencies, Coomer said.

Coun. Steve Kim praised the new board for helping small businesses, especially in Koreatown, to the south.

The inaugural Coquitlam North Road BIA board is made up of:

  • Owen Coomer, board chair (Taphouse Taverns COO)
  • Vanessa Wideski, vice chair (co-executive director for Low Entropy Foundation)
  • Winnie Hsu, treasurer (founder and CEO at Nexgen Accounting Inc)
  • Trudi-Ann Appleton, director (branch manager of Prospera Credit Unit)
  • Dr. Nasim Mihta, director (owner/dentist of Burnaby Mountain Dental)
  • Franklin Jackson, director (general manager of Executive Hotel and Resorts)
  • Ryan Hall, director (leasing and asset manager for Anthem Properties)