A BIA is a Business Improvement Association

What is a BIA?

A Business Improvement Area (BIA) is an association that promotes the economic development of a specific district through various marketing, beautification, advocacy, and clean and safe initiatives. A BIA is formed of an immediate team and governed by a volunteer Board of Directors.

How is a BIA formed?

BIAs are the result of a democratic process where a majority of businesses in a district could petition their local government to create an autonomous authority for both marketing and direct management of issues. Membership fees would be collected as a factor of property taxes.

How does a neighbourhood form a new BIA?

Provincial legislation defines the steps necessary for a neighbourhood to become a BIA, but its business plan and budget must be approved by the municipal government. It is a self-taxing agency. The business membership determines the budget and then requests that the funds be collected as a levy against property taxes. This is known in Vancouver as “The BIA Levy.”

What kind of programs are commonly covered by a BIA?

BIAs engage on behalf of all businesses within the neighbourhood in matters such as promotion, festivals, crime prevention, security, cleanliness, transportation, parking and advocacy.

What was the first BIA in BC?

The Vancouver movement was initially led by Gastown promoters who were also members of the Downtown Businessmen’s Association (now Downtown Vancouver Association). Gastown became the first BIA in BC in 1989, followed by the Downtown Vancouver BIA one year later.

The Creation of the Downtown Vancouver BIA required careful planning in three areas. Much of the leadership came from the Downtown Vancouver Association (DVA), which debated three key hurdles: boundaries – some argued to include the whole downtown peninsula, while others wanted more focus, a business plan, and a proposed budget.

How many exist in BC today?

There are over 50 BIAs in BC with 22 in Vancouver alone. The downtown Vancouver peninsula has seven BIAs: the DVBIA, the Robson Street Business Association, the Gastown Business Improvement Society, the West End Business Improvement Association, the Yaletown Business Improvement AssociationHastings Crossing Business Improvement Association and the Chinatown Business Improvement Association. Other Vancouver BIAs are Mount Pleasant, Kerrisdale, South Granville, Commercial Drive, (South Hill) Fraser Street, Marpole, Strathcona Area, Collingwood, Hastings North, Kitsilano Fourth Avenue, Victoria Drive, Point Grey Village and Cambie Village.

Who are our civic and provincial partners?

The City of Vancouver works closely with BIAs. Provincially, the BIAs are represented by the Business Improvements Areas of BC (BIABC).