Speaking for our South Granville Members
When the South Granville Business Improvement Association was established in 1999, there were 5 BIAs across the city – Gastown, Mount Pleasant, Kerrisdale, Robson Street and the Downtown BIA.
In those early years, BIAs functioned in a bit of a vacuum where the most information we might share amongst each other was about where to purchase street banners. Speaking with a united voice was not even a consideration.
Since that time, the BIA movement in Vancouver has expanded to 22 communities and the need for a common voice on issues such as street disorder, engineering services, taxation and homelessness has brought all 22 organizations together to form the Vancouver Partnership. I am pleased to say that the South Granville BIA was instrumental in the establishment of this group of dedicated and talented folks. The first meetings were held as an informal lunch where each BIA would share what they were working on. We quickly discovered we were not always being treated equally by city staff. Those meetings also helped newer Executive Directors understand the nuances of city policy and procedure. We still don’t share our marketing secrets but there is still more than enough to talk about at our monthly meetings which are now far more structured and with topics that are far more serious.
We no longer believe it is acceptable to push street disorder from one neighbourhood to another. Instead, we work together and command the attention of police, mental health workers, the province and city staff in finding solutions that address the issue for all… not just a few.
The Vancouver Fair Tax Coalition has been, by far, our greatest achievement. Shedding the stereotypical label of ‘Big Business’, BIAs were able to secure a shift of almost 5% in the share of property taxes that is carried by the commercial rate payer. 5% does not sound like much but it represents millions and millions of dollars.
The tax fight continues. The BIAs of Vancouver continue to lead that fight with an emphasis on the inequity that comes from the valuation system known as ‘highest and best use’. It seems incredibly unfair that our neighbourhoods are worth more as dirt than a commercial going concern that provide goods, services and jobs to our communities. This fight has two fronts. One with the City to reconsider the tax share it imposes on the business community along with zoning decisions that are putting our neighbourhoods in a speculative position. The provincial fight involves BC Assessment and policies that seem very difficult to move.
I never would have imagined that after 13 years, we are still fighting for taxation fairness. The only way I can describe it is ‘glacial’.
Speaking for the South Granville business community has become a large part of my job. On a daily basis, the SGBIA is called upon to provide your perspective on issues such as permits and licensing, outdoor patios, vending, changes to liquor bylaws, street use bylaws, food cart licensing and regulations, 311 functionality, news box regulations, and the list goes on.
We have been given the opportunity to help shape the legislation that will change how we regulate and tax marijuana. It was an honour to sit at the table with Parliamentary Secretary, Bill Blair as well as other major stakeholders in our community to discuss all aspects of the issue. It is far more complex than it first appears.
Advocacy will continue to be a significant function of the SGBIA.
The City of Vancouver’s 2040 Transportation Plan puts us in the centre of major initiatives affecting the south side of False Creek. South Granville will be affected – to one degree or another by bike routes, bike lanes, changes in transit service, changes in parking regulations and Bike Share. Some decisions we can influence proactively, and others must be managed in a reactive manner. Our longstanding relationship with city staff along with our institutional memory provides us instant credibility in these matters.
The Millennium Line Broadway Extension Project is well underway. Granville will be getting a transit station which means we will have some form of grade level construction in the neighbourhood. We currently have assurances that the transit line will be a bored tunnel but until we see final contracts and the work begins, we remain wary of how the project will be completed.
The goal is for the project to break ground in 2019 and complete in 2022. The BIA will be working closely with the City and Translink to ensure that South Granville merchants are respected and that the neighbourhood is left better than it was before the project started.
The South Granville BIA board of directors have been following plans for the Granville Street Bridge and the Arbutus Greenway very closely. The BIA has done significant advanced research with the objective of remaining well ahead of city staff, politicians and various advocacy groups to ensure that our community interests are considered and protected.
In the next five years, the role of Advocate may very well provide the biggest challenges and benefits to the SGBIA membership. Fortunately, the organization has earned the right to be heard and has the knowledge, resources and expertise to be taken seriously.
South Granville BIA, 2018
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