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Council to vote on downtown business improvement area board, budget

Prospective initiatives include marketing, seasonal lighting, seating area

St. Albert city council is being asked to approve the first board and annual budget for the new downtown business improvement area (BIA) today.

The BIA, which was formally established through bylaw by council in September, was created by Shannon Roche, the owner of Divine and Free Wellness Spa on St. Michael Street, and Michelle McDonald, the co-owner of Tryst Wine and Small Plates on Perron Street.

RELATED: Council votes to establish new organization for downtown businesses

BIAs are corporations established through municipal bylaw, and provincially regulated in Alberta under the Municipal Government Act (MGA). There are roughly 35 BIAs in operation throughout the province, with most located in Edmonton and Calgary.

Unlike a chamber of commerce, which also works to advocate for and improve business interests, BIAs are funded through a tax levy assessed to all businesses within the BIA's geographic area. Those funds can be used for things like marketing, visitor attraction, event coordinating, strategic plans, beautification, crime prevention, and more.

Because BIAs are established under municipal bylaw, municipal councils are responsible for approving board members and annual budgets.

Council will vote on approving the first annual budget and board for St. Albert's downtown BIA on Tuesday.

According to documents included in council's meeting agenda, the prospective board consists of six people, including Roche as the first president, as well as McDonald, who is listed as the BIA's treasurer.

Other board members include Leah Louden, the director of the Art Gallery of St. Albert; Gwen Wilkinson, the director of the St. Albert Community Hall; Jennifer Parker, a financial adviser with Edward Jones; and Alena Brown, the owner of Eye Candy Lash Extensions.

The budget being put forward for council approval on Tuesday totals $50,000, half of which is city-provided funding thanks to a motion put forward by Mayor Cathy Heron during 2024 budget deliberations that will see the city provide the BIA with 100 per cent matching funding in 2024, 75 per cent matching funding in 2025, and 50 per cent matching funding in 2026.

A document included in council's meeting agenda shows some initiatives the BIA budgeted for include marketing, fall and winter lighting downtown, a new seating area, and more.

Jack Farrell

About the Author: Jack Farrell

Jack Farrell joined the St. Albert Gazette in May, 2022.
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