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BIA budget and levy caps could be removed

By Dave Flaherty/The Oshawa Express

The city could soon hand the Downtown BIA a greater role in determining its own future.

At the latest development services committee meeting, councillors supported a few amendments to the by-law governing the BIA.

These changes still require approval from city council at its next meeting.

The first change would see the city eliminate a funding cap of $251,000 on the BIA’s yearly budget.

Ward 4 city and regional councillor Rick Kerr, who sits on the BIA board, noted there are almost no other municipalities in Ontario that have such a cap in place.

According to Kerr, the cap creates difficulty for the organization, and under the Municipal Act, council cannot increase the BIA’s budget, only lower it.

He said the BIA in the City of Guelph, a municipality comparable in size to Oshawa, had a budget of around $700,000 last year.

Ward 5 city and regional councillor Brian Nicholson said this step should have been taken decades ago.

Nicholson said it is time “the BIA took control of its own house.”

“Let them make their own choices,” Nicholson said.

The committee also voted in favour of eliminating minimum and maximum BIA levies of $50 and $5,500 respectively.

In his report on the changes, commissioner of development services Warren Munro noted staff were unable to find any other BIAs in Ontario with maximum and minimum levies.

In a letter to the committee, BIA executive director Amanda MacDonald noted these changes are required to keep the organization “sustainable, competitive and [modern].”

She also notes without these amendments, the BIA will be forced to cut programs and downsize its operations.