The Downtown Victoria Business Association is now the second largest business improvement association in the province, after the city adopted a bylaw this week expanding its downtown boundaries.
The expansion, the first in the organization’s 17-year history, extends the business improvement area east to Cook Street from Blanshard Street and north to Bay Street from Discovery Street, and includes 422 additional properties.
The existing zone includes all of the rest of downtown and extends to parts of the legislature precinct. Only downtown Vancouver has a larger business improvement association.
With the expansion, the DVBA’s membership is expected to swell to more than 2,000 from 1,350, and its 2022 budget, funded by a levy on its membership, will be more than $1.7 million.
“The DVBA and its board of directors are excited to welcome our new members into the association,” said executive director Jeff Bray. “We are grateful for council’s support. We look forward to working with all our members to continually enhance one of North America’s best mid-sized downtowns.”
According to Bray, the expansion came at the request of businesses on the fringes of downtown that saw value in what the organization was able to do during the pandemic for member businesses.
The association advocates on behalf of downtown businesses to all levels of government, runs events and marketing campaigns and provides grants, while its Clean Team picks up garbage and removes drug paraphernalia and graffiti.
Of the 422 properties in the area considered for expansion, only 132 objected, or 31 per cent representing about 40 per cent of the assessed value of the properties. If 50 per cent of the property owners representing at least 50 per cent of the assessed value objected, it would not have gone to council.
Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps noted the association does important work to support its members and to animate and promote the downtown.
“This boundary expansion will enable them to serve and support an expanded array of businesses and to expand the amazing and much sought Clean Team services to a wider area,” she said.
Levies for DVBA member businesses are based on commercial property assessment, and range from under $100 to as much as $82,449 per year for the 1515 Douglas St. building across from Victoria City Hall. The Bay Centre contributes $59,403 each year and the Atrium at the corner of Blanshard and Yates streets contributes $58,342.
Bray said the additional money has already be spoken for, as existing programs will be expanded to handle the larger area.
The DVBA was initially established through a municipal bylaw in 2005.