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Victoria moves ahead with renewal of downtown business improvement area

Council approved a process that will canvass property owners in the catchment area to get approval to impose a levy to fund the DVBA.
People stroll along Douglas Street in downtown Victoria. The Downtown Victoria Business Association has been given the green light to ask members for another five-year mandate to run the city’s business improvement area. DARREN STONE, TIMES COLONIST

Victoria council has agreed to the Downtown Victoria Business Association’s request to seek its fifth five-year renewal to manage the city’s business improvement area.

Council approved a process that will canvass property owners in the catchment area to get approval to impose a levy to fund the DVBA.

Jeff Bray, chief ­executive of the DVBA, said he was pleased council moved ahead with the usual process, which will bring some stability for the ­organization.

The city will mail out a notice of the proposed renewal to all affected property owners, giving 30 days for owners to oppose the renewal. In order to halt the business improvement area levy, at least 50 per cent of the owners who represent at least 50 per cent of the value of land and improvements that would be subject to the tax must register an objection. Traditionally, only about two per cent of owners object, Bray said.

This year, the DVBA is hoping for a four per cent increase to the levy, which would translate into $1.8 million this year and $2.1 million by 2029.

Bray said they tend not to get much pushback from member businesses. “They see the work that our Clean Team does, the marketing that we do and the engagement we have on a variety of issues, including advocacy,” he said. “I think our members recognize the value of what we do for ­business.”

The city’s role in the renewal is administering the process and collecting the levy to be used as the DVBA’s annual budget.

The Downtown ­Victoria ­Business Association, ­established in 2005, is the second largest business improvement association in the province. In 2022 the organization expanded its 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 in B.C.

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.

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