Terrace’s downtown is on its way to looking a bit more appealing.
City council has agreed to go forward with a bylaw process that would create an improvement area in the downtown core.
This means businesses in the designated area pay a levy and the collected money goes towards improving that area.
The go ahead to start the bylaw process came after local merchants Anna Beddie of Misty River Books and Lori Merrill of Sidewalkers asked council during a meeting March 28 to implement a downtown improvement area in Terrace.
“The downtown improvement area is an opportunity, working together with the city, TEDA (Terrace Economic Development Authority), the Chamber (of Commerce), and Kermodei Tourism, that we can improve the downtown to make it more….a hub…for our community,” Beddie said, saying it’s to promote the commercial, shopping, and business district of downtown.
Merrill said the idea of the improvement area came through a vision the community had while discussing the city’s official community plan.
“In light of the economy, our small businesses are struggling,” she said, saying that an improvement area would help small businesses work together and make downtown a better place.
Beddie and Merrill have been working with other businesses in town since 2003 to organize activities and festivals that would promote downtown, and open houses explaining the downtown improvement area concept have been hosted in the last few years.
The downtown business improvement area bylaw would create a levy on property owners in a specified downtown area, and the money gathered would be used to revitalize downtown, attract customers, and hold events.
“We do think that there should be some kind of budget,” Beddie said. “In order to improve the downtown, there’s got to be an influx of money, and it’s by everybody working together with a small amount from everybody, that that’s how we’re going to be able to move forward.”
They’re looking at a $60,000 budget, and as a non-profit society, Beddie said it would be possible to find matching dollars through grants for more marketing money.
Council agreed unanimously to move ahead with starting a downtown improvement area.
City planner David Block explained that in the bylaw process there’s a petition process that goes forward, and every affected property owner has an opportunity to vote for or against the initiative. Council will have the final say if the bylaw is approved by 50 per cent of the property owners with a total of 50 per cent of assessed value.
Beddie said the estimated levy for property owners probably wouldn’t be more than $100 a year per $100,000 of assessed property, but said there are no concrete numbers until the vote is cast.