Society works on a plan to shape up downtown

A Terrace society has formed that is now planning to spruce up and promote the downtown district.

  • Tue Mar 27th, 2012 6:00pm
  • News

Terrace’s downtown area is one step closer to increasing its allure.

That’s because a group has formed that is planning to spruce up and promote the downtown district, using money that will be collected from property owners there.

The Terrace Downtown Improvement Area Society had its first AGM March 13, and is now forming a plan of action on how to spend money that will start being levied in July 2012 from 215 downtown-core properties.

The city will be collecting on behalf of the society, and the society must spend it making Terrace’s downtown area vibrant.

Money collected is not allowed to exceed $60,000 according to a city bylaw, nor can the levy exceed $0.71 on every $1000 of property value.

The city of Terrace approved the tax levy in July of 2011, however payments won’t be collected until July of 2012 based on 2012 property value assessments.

Anna Beddie is the  owner of Misty River Books, on the board, and one of the pioneers who brought the idea for a downtown improvement levy and society to the city last spring. “We had a sharing of ideas,” said Anna Beddie about what was discussed at the inaugural AGM, adding 18 property and business owners attended. Nine of them joined the volunteer board.

During initial planning with the city, Beddie said a draft budget for how money would be spent was presented. It includes $24,000 for an administrative position, $12,000 for festivals and events, $9,000 for marketing, $6,000 for beautification, $6,000 for fixed costs for things like rent, and a $3,000 contingency.

Those numbers are far from final, said Beddie, adding talks about how to get the most bang for each buck for the downtown core have already started, but nothing has been planned formally.

Board member Brad Benson, who owns Benson Optical on Lakelse Ave. said he’s excited to brainstorm with other business and property owners who are passionate about the downtown’s success, adding he doesn’t mind paying a levy that goes directly to making a stronger business community.

Half of those affected by the levy needed to be on side for the society to be formed.

“Thirty nine businesses of the 215 affected submitted petitions against the proposal,” said city officials of the petition period prior to when the city bylaw was passed and society formed.

And while this society is still new, other communities in B.C. have ones just like it.

Each operates under an umbrella organization called Business Improvement Areas of British Columbia (BIABC), a provincial non-profit. According to the BIABC website, there are 58 B.C. business improvement groups like the one in Terrace which represent more than 60,000 businesses.