By Joel Wittnebel/The Oshawa Express
Oshawa’s downtown BIA has moved one step closer to expanding its boundaries and its budget.
The Business Improvement Area (BIA) proposed an expansion in March 2015, and since that time has held public meetings on the matter to gather input. The proposed expansion was approved in principle by the development services committee on April 4.
“I think it’s a great idea that we should have done years ago,” said Councillor Bob Chapman.
The new boundaries could see the BIA grow to 36 blocks, stretching to William Street on the north end and John Street to the south. The east boundary would be made up of Division Street, Charles Street and Court Street, while Oshawa Creek would form the west boundary. Approximately 85 new businesses would be added to the BIA.
This equates to $103,000 in new funds contributing to the BIA’s current budget, bringing it to a total of $246,000 annually.
BIA members pay increased fees along with their municipal taxes in order to receive perks decided on and implemented by BIA management and city staff, including beautification efforts and increased marketing and promotion.
However, Chapman says he wanted to make sure citizens understand nothing is set in stone just yet.
“I want to make sure we’re managing expectations,” he said, making sure that it was understood nothing had been approved by council.
The expansion could mean big changes to the city’s services, including a $40,000 increase for waste pickup (three times per week in the BIA) to the areas that don’t currently receive it and an additional $37,000 for increased street cleaning measures.
And while the city report and recommendation approves of the BIA expansion it does not recommend increase service levels.
If approved, the expansion would take affect in January. The item will go for final approval at council’s regular meeting on April 11.