An afternoon here is a date with the good life.
Vancouver Magazine, 2010

Located mere minutes from downtown Vancouver and easily accessible from all over the Lower Mainland, South Granville is a neighbourhood where Vancouver comes to taste the best, find their style, live well and indulge themselves. South Granville is where you’ll find something for everyone—the aspiring interior designer, the power-shopper, the spa lover, the food and wine connoisseur—the list is endless.

What is a BIA?

Business Improvement Associations are self-funded, self-governing, grassroots organizations established through the collective will of like-minded businesses operating within in a defined geographic area.

The City assists by helping the merchants and landlords to form BIAs. Once a BIA is formed, it is managed by a volunteer board of property owners and tenants, which uses BIA funds to hire staff and implement BIA activities.

BIAs obtain funding through a special property levy, much like a Local Improvement Levy. The City has an ongoing role: facilitating the annual funding process, collecting the levy from individual businesses on our behalf and remitting to the BIA Board annually following member approval of draft annual budgets, and monitoring annual budgets.

Each property owner’s share of the annual BIA budget is proportionate to their share of the total taxable value within the BIA boundaries. In other words, if an owner owns one percent of the total taxable assessed value, their share will be one percent of the BIA budget.

In most lease agreements, property owners pass on this cost to the business tenants.

BIA 101

BIAs first emerged in 1970 – in Toronto actually – as well as in Los Angeles.

In the late 1960’s, Toronto’s inner city was struggling with suburban sprawl as commuting cars began to fill up once vital commercial streets. A few volunteer merchant associations existed but they were not very successful, since budgets tend to be quite minimal. Street-front commercial areas were suffering as malls were increasing in popularity.

Bloor Street West merchants got together to look into how they could compete with “the mall.” They found that all mall tenants were required to contribute Common Area Maintenance Fees, which were used for promotions to draw in customers.

They then worked with City of Toronto to develop a special BIA levy – so that individual merchants could pool their resources in a similar way, and create effective marketing programs.

Vancouver’s first BIAs were formed in 1989 – in Gastown and Mount Pleasant, for similar reasons to Bloor West.

BIAs are now located around the world, including Canada, the US, New Zealand, South Africa, Germany and the U.K. There are more than 1,000 BIAs in the U.S. and hundreds in Canada, including 58 in British Columbia alone.

Today’s BIAs do more than provide a common brand and voice for businesses. We also benefit the broader communities and the city as a whole through our contributions to street beautification, street safety, community events and sponsorships.

Through partnerships with other organizations and support to city departments, BIAs also are a catalyst for positive change, helping to address broader planning, economic and social initiatives.

Every BIA is unique in their focus, priorities and approach… just like the businesses they represent.

What about the South Granville BIA?

The South Granville BIA is geographically defined by the boundaries of Granville Street from 5th Avenue to 16th Avenue (N/S) and to the laneways on the east and west side of Granville. We also represent businesses on the south side of Broadway between Granville and Fir.

The SGBIA is not the first merchant association in our area. More than sixty years ago, at a luncheon meeting at the I.O.O.F. Hall on West 8th Avenue, a “business men’s association of the merchants of South Granville” was formed. One of their first official acts was to approve street decorations for the King’s visit during the summer of 1939.

In what the Province newspaper called “an ambitious scheme”, they agreed to decorate eleven blocks of South Granville street with streamers, flags and a special Royal welcome banner, stretched across Granville at 12th Avenue. The cost for the project was $450.00.

The SGBIA represents

  • 425 member businesses and property owners
  • $659 million in assessed property value (commercial only, averaged)
  • $10.86 million in annual commercial property taxes
  • $560,000 BIA annual budget (2013)

Our Mandate

To help make South Granville the destination of choice for Metro Vancouver residents for shopping, dining, entertainment, and other services; and to act as a catalyst for vibrancy and prosperity in the area through advocacy, marketing, events, improvements and co-operative initiatives.

Our Programs

Street Beautification & Maintenance

  • We provide over 1,500 hours of litter pick up each year to augment services provided by the City of Vancouver to keep our neighbourhood clean and litter free. We use the Coast Foundation for these services. Coast’s mandate is to improve the lives of people with a mental illness by providing practical and pragmatic help such as housing, jobs, community, rehabilitative social and recreational opportunities, food, clothing and basic life skills training.
  • Our summer baskets and year-round planters provide colour to our neighbourhood. The 4200+ plants illustrate our ongoing commitment to making our neighbourhood a beautiful place to live, work and shop.
  • Our colourful street banners draw the rave reviews of Vancouver citizens and tourists alike. From whimsical Brill buses to exotic First Nations motifs– all our designs feature artists who are supported by our South Granville art gallery community. For more about our banners, click here
  • Night time lighting for our street banners has been a huge project for the BIA and a first in the city.
  • We provide information maps and brochure that assist residents and tourists to locate their favourite shops in South Granville and to navigate themselves to the various tourist destinations within walking distance of our community.
  • This past year the BIA removed 1,598 graffiti tags from private property. This program has offered significant savings to our members who previously had to contract their own services.

Making South Granville Safe

  • The Downtown Ambassadors have become an integral part of our South Granville safety program. They supply over 5,300 hours of patrols each year. This past year, the Ambassadors have:
    • Provided visitor assistance 4,817 times
    • Made 13,994 patrols of specific trouble spots
    • Conducted 8,007 parking lot patrols
    • Reported 2,975 incidents of vandalism on public property
    • Offered assistance to people in need 3,191 times
    • Met with merchants in their place of business 14,210 times
  • Merchant information continues to be a priority with Shoplifting brochures, and in store security guides being produced for the SGBIA membership.
  • Our Community Policing Centre opened in July of 2009. This has provided great support to our residents and businesses alike. The policing office is always looking for volunteers so consider giving back to your community in this very positive way.

Telling the South Granville Story

Whether it is efforts to preserve our unique history or making the foray into the new world of social media, the South Granville BIA is there.

Providing marketing opportunities for merchants that would not be available if they were to go it alone is a priority for the SGBIA. From bright blue umbrellas to traditional media to the latest in mobile websites is all part of what we do.

Keeping our history alive is a huge priority for the SGBIA. Time capsules, legacy plaques, history walks and centennial celebrations form a rich back story to some of the greatest shopping in the city.

Speaking for our South Granville Members

Business owners are often overwhelmed with the day to day operations of their own businesses. All too often, issues of concern are common to many and this is where the BIA can serve its members in a profound and positive way.

Property taxation is always a topic of conversation amongst Vancouver business owners – for good reason. Vancouver businesses have the highest property tax rates in the country. The SGBIA is a founding member of the Vancouver Fair Tax Coalition. For the past 5 years, the VFTC has been working to bring business property taxes in line with regional average in the Metro Vancouver Region.

This past year, the coalition was instrumental and successful in influencing city council to approve another 1% tax shift. This has resulted in a cumulative tax savings to Vancouver businesses of over $114 million dollars in the past 4 years. While it is not remotely enough to solve the problem it is a positive step in the right direction to maintain a healthy Vancouver economy.

Canada Line completion brought significant changes to South Granville and its transit services. The SGBIA has been working closely with Translink to leverage the opportunity for the easing of parking restrictions. The SGBIA is now representing the interests of South Granville in the early planning of the Broadway Rapid Transit Plan. This advocacy role will be critical as we have witnessed impacts of construction in the Cambie corridor.

The SGBIA continues to be an active member of the Vancouver Partnership, representing all 20 BIAs in the City of Vancouver. The group addresses issues of common concern and lobbies local government to consider the interests of the business community in its planning and policy creation.