BIA concentrates on downtown improvements
By Jenn Watt
Feb. 7, 2017
The following are brief reports of items discussed at the Haliburton Village Business Improvement Area annual general meeting at Dysart council chambers on Feb. 1.
Christmas lights on hold
This year’s Christmas lights for Haliburton’s downtown couldn’t be mounted in time for the annual parade in November because of a purchasing delay.
An unexpected retirement from the municipality meant the lights did not arrive when expected and when they did, the installer couldn’t put them up due to the wintry weather.
“Let’s not worry about putting the snowflakes [lights] up this year,” BIA president Luke Schell said he told the installer, “but we do need to get our banners down.”
Some organizations with banners in the downtown want to have them removed because they’ve become tattered over time. In late May or early June the new banners would be raised.
One vacant position
The BIA elected its executive for the year: Luke Schell, Nelly Ashworth, Sharon Rowden, Renzo Rosati, David Zilstra, Brad Park and Clay Glecoff. Dysart et al Councillor Nancy Wood-Roberts will serve again in the coming year. Former executive member Chris O’Mara did not stand for re-election this year. That means there is one available position for a BIA member to join the executive.
Schell said there was a time when it was difficult to find committee members, but that there is now a strong group of people willing to do the work to improve the downtown.
“It’s kind of nice having a solid, dedicated committee and they are,” he said, noting they were all “here for exactly the right reasons and trying to do the best they can to help all the businesses in downtown Haliburton.”
Dysart’s Deputy-reeve Andrea Roberts thanked the group for what they were doing and noted that it’s the everyday things that enhance the community and build civic pride, such as flowers and a fresh coat of paint.
BIA to support skate park
During his opening remarks, Luke Schell said the BIA had decided to support the construction of the new skate park in Haliburton. The larger structure is planned for space that was once the ball diamond, near the EMS base. There was no dollar amount given at the meeting. That figure will come once the surplus for the coming year is confirmed with Dysart et al.
Deputy-reeve Andrea Roberts told the committee that fundraising for the skate park would soon begin in earnest with at least $60,000 needed (but an ideal fundraising goal of $100,000) on top of what has already come in.
Flowers to be concentrated
Maintaining flowers in the outer reaches of the BIA membership has proved difficult.
“Contrary to what you might think, it’s really hard to find somebody to do that job,” Schell said. To make the job easier, the BIA is going to concentrate the flowers in the downtown core this year. The budget for flowers in 2017 is $9,500 including buying the plants and maintenance. Last year it was the same, with the organization spending $8,824.
“I think there’s something to be said for concentrating more flowers in a smaller area. It would look more impressive,” Schell said.
Flower baskets may be offered to BIA members that are off the main street, but businesses would have to maintain the baskets themselves.
BIA under budget
The BIA spent less than it budgeted for January through December of 2016 with a surplus. Last year’s levy – drawn from the businesses in the downtown – was $47,600.
Local businessman Andy Glecoff asked why the group hadn’t spent its whole promotions budget in 2016. They had budgeted $15,400, but spent only $6,879. Promotions included Buy In and Win, Frost Fest, Men’s Shopping Night, Midnight Madness, Come to Town Tuesdays and others.
“We want to promote our town. I don’t understand why we didn’t make plans or make an effort to spend those budgets,” Glecoff said.
Nelly Ashworth said that many times they were given free or discounted ads from the newspapers and radio stations, which meant they underspent the budget.
Glecoff suggested that the BIA establish a promotions committee to keep on top of the spending.