The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic continue to challenge our members and the community in diverse and extensive ways. Supporting our members through these challenging times has been the top priority for the Strathcona BIA. The Board has been working to apply a COVID-19 recovery lens to all board decisions and ensure that our programming and services support members through COVID-19 and facilitate recovery efforts. We have also continued to invest in placemaking initiatives in Strathcona to attract people to the area and bring new vibrant spaces that inspire and connect people.
COVID-19 Task Force
At the beginning of the pandemic we were the first BIA to join the COVID-19 Community-Coordinated Response Network, over 40 organizations operating in the Downtown Eastside working together to address the impacts of COVID-19. This group continues to meet and collaborate on ways to support the well-being of the community, expanding their scope of work to address other challenges such as heat wave weather events and the opioid crisis. Showing up as a community partner and building relationships with groups in the community who are working to create a thriving neighbourhood is integral to our success as an organization.
We’ve increased our direct member communications through COVID-19. We continue providing resources and information on available COVID-19 resources and business supports through our e-newsletter channel and social media channels. When new targeted grants came online to help hard-hit businesses or when new health order regulations were announced, we were quick to share about them with our members immediately, and we’ll continue to do so as long as the pandemic is impacting you and your operations.
COVID-19 Recovery Grant
We launched a COVID-19 Recovery Grant pilot program in September 2020 to support our business and property owners affected by the pandemic. Matching grants up to $1000 were used to help members manage unexpected expenses from COVID-19, attract customers, improve security, and invest in placemaking improvements. We were excited to award $15,620 to 22 Strathcona BIA members across multiple sectors and different sub-districts, for projects ranging from patio installations, to security fence upgrades, to bulk PPE supplies. The matching grants were put towards projects that resulted in a total investment of almost $50,000 in area improvements and recovery supplies.
Safe and Welcoming Grant
Building on the success of the Recovery Grant, in July of this year we launched the Safe and Welcoming Grant. We heard from members in our Safety Survey earlier in the year that more investment in environmental safety is a priority. Specifically, many members felt that improvements in things like lighting, street and crosswalk infrastructure, and more green space will have a large impact on the overall safety of the area. We took the learnings from the COVID-19 Recovery Grant pilot program and created this new grant program to provide members with the funding and flexibility to address their specific needs while also keeping a district-wide perspective. The goal of this program is to help our members make safety and beautification investments that will attract people to the area and create a more safe and welcoming community for all – small changes add up to big impact! Since the launch of the program, seven businesses have applied and are in the process of starting on safety and beautification projects. Applications continue to be accepted here.
We’re excited to have brought several new murals to the Strathcona neighbourhood this year in partnership with Vancouver Mural Festival and local property owners. Artist Sitji Chou created a mural piece called Ripple at Noble on 1001 Venables Street. The artist hopes the waves, lilies, and koi mingling in between will instill a sense of tranquility and whimsy to all who see the mural. Another piece includes Benjamin Stone’s bold new work at Container Brewing, titled No Arrival. A third mural at 603 Powell Street is part of the Black Strathcona Resurgence Project (BSRP). The BSRP is a project to reclaim Black visibility in Strathcona, an area historically populated by Vancouver’s Black community. The BSRP mural titled Watch Over this Child by artist Sasha Mbabazi, is a call to action to take responsibility for the wellbeing of each other. And the Thomas Cannell mural Give It Time, that we sponsored in 2020, has become a standout mural in the district and an East Hastings landmark. Public art has the power to help strengthen the connections between all who share space here, and we are so proud to be a part of supporting more murals for all to enjoy.
We have also invested in mural restoration and upkeep. Last year, we repaired and refreshed the mural at 812 East Cordova, an amazing colourful mural depicting the Squamish Valley and Stawamus Chief Mountain, among others, and we remain invested in ensuring murals in Strathcona are well maintained.
Adding and Refreshing Tree Planters
The Hastings Urban Tree Planters are an urban greening initiative going since 2014 that responds to the lack of trees along some of the streets in Strathcona. The tree planters bring life to our streetscapes by adding greenery through resilient tree varieties and colour through vibrant murals on the planter exteriors. Over the years, the planters have provided a platform for many emerging artists, and this year we are honoured to dedicate this visual space for an Indigenous artist to create a statement-making impact along East Hastings. Following a selection process with Vancouver Mural Fest, we’re excited that the planter murals are in the process of being refreshed by artist Zac George. The design, selected in part through consultation with participants in the planter program, is called Sacred Mountains and we can’t wait to see it completed soon. We’ll also be adding four new planters to the 800 Block of East Hastings, expanding the total number of tree planters in the community to 16.
In the lead up to this year’s AGM we are sharing a series of reports with our business community on all that we’ve been up to in service to you, our members. Next up, Marketing, Promotions, and Sponsorships!
Last September, after months of engagement and brand strategy development, we launched our new commercial district placebrand for Strathcona. Our brand celebrates all the people and businesses that make Strathcona different and exceptional. Despite the challenges of COVID-19 to bring people together, over this past year we’ve managed to bring our new placebrand to life in the streets and across digital channels. Through storytelling and activations we showcase what our members do to make Strathcona a vibrant and resilient community. Here’s how we’ve been bringing Strathcona to the hearts and minds of people across the Lower Mainland, welcoming everyone to come as they are, whoever they are.
New Website and Directory
We launched a new website that showcases the distinct character of our commercial district and draws people in to discover something different in Strathcona. A comprehensive member directory features all the businesses in Strathcona across our varied sectors. Members can now easily access our program services and information about what we do on behalf of the district. Since launching the website it’s been visited 19,880 times by 6504 unique users.
We continue to maintain 400 street pole banners across the district. The current wordmap design of place names on our banners leans into the diversity of the district of Strathcona. The refreshed design and colours bring vibrancy and pride of place to our streets.
#DoDifferent and Member Features
The inspiration behind our #DoDifferent hashtag are the stories of people and businesses in Strathcona doing things in their own unique and unexpected ways. Working with professional photographers and videographers, we’re capturing more original member portraits, behind the scenes photos, and video footage than ever before. We also amplify the content that our business members and community visitors share. We have featured a total of 72 unique Strathcona businesses across our social media channels in the last year. In that time we’ve seen a 56% growth in followers on our Instagram channel. As part of our focus to increase engaging video content, we’ve published two district promotional videos, three business feature videos, and 20 Instagram Reels. Our video content alone has reached 38,733 cumulative views across our social platforms.
In October 2020 we held our first ever Halloween Hop in partnership with the Strathcona Community Policing Centre, Strathcona Residents Association, and Raycam Centre. Eleven businesses and organizations in and around the 800 Block of East Hastings took part in this family-friendly trick-or-treat event. Local employees dressed up in fabulous Halloween costumes to safely hand out candy outside their businesses, and event-goers of all ages enjoyed some Halloween family fun.
Our November Dine Strathcona campaign brought together 17 businesses in Strathcona’s hospitality community to showcase the neighbourhood’s vibrant culinary scene while raising funds to provide support for vulnerable individuals in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. Participating dining establishments offered a feature dish throughout the two-week event period, with proceeds from each dish ordered donated to the WISH Drop-In Centre. In addition to dining in, Dine Strathcona encouraged people to order take-out and delivery options to accommodate the challenging health order restrictions on restaurants at that time. The campaign was covered by 32 media articles, and earned 9.4 million impressions from traditional media. By working with local food influencers, the social media related posts of the campaign earned 1.21 million impressions. Despite the timing of the health order restrictions, over 640 feature dishes were sold in the two-week time frame, which amounted to approximately $10,000 in cumulative sales.
Gift Big Shop Small
In December, to support our retail sector, we ran a Gift Big Shop Small campaign to support shopping locally for the holiday season. Customers were encouraged to spend $25 or more at three participating locations in order to win a $25 Visa card to support shopping local. Nine Strathcona businesses took part, and many happy customers enjoyed discovering all of Strathcona’s unique offerings for the holidays.
Love Your City
In February, Strathcona joined 15 other neighbourhoods across Vancouver to run the Love Your City Contest, a call to get out, explore our city, and find LOVE in our neighbourhoods. Event-goers could enter the city-wide contest by finding love related murals and installations in each neighbourhood and posting them to their Instagram profile. Plus, in the week leading up to Valentine’s Day we did a daily prize giveaway on our Instagram channel to local businesses and received over 2000 contest entries!
Automotive Sector Promotion
We have over 25 businesses in our community that assist with all types of motor vehicle needs. Our Automotive sector campaign in April highlighted five participating auto-sector businesses and supported them to run in-store and online contests to help engage existing and new customers. The campaign received 364 cumulative contest entries across the five businesses, featured original photography and quotes from sector employees on our social media, and helped solidify why Strathcona is one of the best areas in Vancouver for auto services.
In an effort to support our restaurant sector when Provincial health restrictions started up again in April and May of 2020, we ran a Takeout Strathcona campaign to encourage people to keep on supporting their favourite Strathcona dining establishments by ordering take-out and delivery. By raffling off gift cards to local restaurants through weekly Instagram contests, we encouraged new customers to discover the amazing dining options we have here. We showcased our favourite takeout items with fun weekly Reels on Instagram that earned over 15,000 impressions across our platforms.
Art Walk Strathcona
Strathcona is home to some of the most notable contemporary art galleries in Vancouver and across the country. In May and June we ran our inaugural Art Walk Strathcona campaign to celebrate our gallery sector. Strathcona’s galleries came together to bring a diverse selection of contemporary art from Indigenous and Canadian artists to the streets on billboards along East Hastings. Art Walk Strathcona invited people to take a self-guided walk to discover the billboard images, and explore the associated exhibitions taking place throughout May and June in Strathcona’s gallery district. In addition to the billboard campaign, we featured participating galleries on our social media channels, and created a transit ad for Art Walk Strathcona that reached communities across the Lower Mainland. Art Walk Strathcona reached over 20,000 users across digital channels.
The Temporary Expedited Patio Permit program meant it was a patio season in Vancouver like no other. To amplify the patio dining experience and to encourage customers to dine on patios all summer long, Strathcona BIA joined 15 other districts for the promotional PATIO campaign, which included a city-wide contest to crown the best patios in the city. An online patio map featuring all the patios across Vancouver, including those in Strathcona, was distributed widely by several campaign media partners. People were encouraged to follow along @patiovancouver to enter daily contest opportunities. Over on our own Instagram channel we shared a steady stream of patio pics and videos to highlight the excellent patio options in Strathcona this year.
To learn more about the Temporary Expedited Patio Permit program visit our advocacy report.
Bike to Shop
Strathcona was a community sponsor of HUB Cycling’s Bike to Shop event in August, along with 20 other participating districts across Metro Vancouver. Nine local businesses in our neighbourhood signed up to offer sweet deals and delicious freebies to customers who biked to their shop during the event. To celebrate Bike to Shop in Strathcona we sponsored a Knowledge HUB outside of the Landyachtz Factory store where people could enjoy free basic bike maintenance, complimentary snacks, and giveaways from Strathcona businesses. 2245 people registered for the event, and many of those participants discovered businesses in Strathcona as a result.
Fostering a sustainable and flourishing cultural community is important to us. We continue to provide community sponsorships year over year so that other local organizations serving the economic resilience of the district are supported. For the 2020/2021 fiscal year those included, The Powell Street Festival, Eastside Culture Crawl, Coldest Night of Year, WISH Drop-In Centre, and nəćamat Urban Indigenous Women’s Village of Wellness, a community wellness event for Indigenous women in Strathcona.
In the lead up to this year’s AGM we are sharing a series of reports with our business community on all that we’ve been up to in service to you, our members. Next up, advocacy!
In a year when our member businesses and organizations were navigating the unprecedented impacts and existing challenges made worse by the global pandemic, providing a collective advocacy voice on the wide range of issues impacting our members has never been more important. We’re consistently working with our members, government partners, and industry professionals to move the dial on a wide range of economic, social, and environmental actions for the benefit of our members.
Rising property taxes continue to be one of the greatest challenges facing local businesses and property owners in Strathcona. For the third consecutive year, we held a Property Tax Workshop in January to help members navigate the property assessment appeal process, and a 2021 tool-kit was created to help the membership better understand and navigate property taxes. Many property owners experienced significant jumps in their taxes yet again this year, since despite protests from us and other BIAs, the Province decided not to apply the 70% reduction in School Tax as they did in 2020. We continue to advocate with other BIAs for commercial tax reforms and changes to the Provincial property valuation system and we’re lobbying for legislative change to achieve lower taxation and valuation on existing use, through new tools such as split assessments.
Sanitation and Graffiti Removal
Through advocacy efforts by the BIA’s, the City approved additional funding for street cleaning programming City-wide, including $2.1 million in funding for the 2021 Street Cleaning Grant Program. We will continue to advocate for street cleaning resources, lane flushing, and debris removal to make sure the district is clean and welcoming for everyone. The City has also invested in animal and human waste removal services, basing this program off a pilot project initiated by the Strathcona BIA. These additional City-provided street cleaning services help offset our service costs, provide more targeted resources, and allow us to support members with more private property debris pick-ups.
In partnership with other BIA districts across Vancouver we were also able to advocate for more funding to support the challenging rise of graffiti tags across our districts. We received $35,000 from the City of Vancouver for additional graffiti removal services through this advocacy effort. We will continue to raise the impacts graffiti has on our district and members.
To learn more about the impacts of our sanitation programming visit our Safety and Sanitation report.
Temporary Expedited Patio Permit Program
Quick, cheap, and cheerful patios have been a lifeblood for restaurants, cafes, and breweries over the past 18 months. In partnership with all 22 BIAs, we advocated for the creation of this program that allows businesses to apply for a free permit to set up a temporary patio, meaning food-sector businesses could be approved and up and running with a temporary patio in a number of days. Prior to this program this process could take several months of back and forth communications and headaches. To amplify the patio dining experience and to encourage customers to dine on patios all summer long, Strathcona BIA joined 15 other districts for the promotional PATIO campaign, which included a city-wide contest to crown the best patios in the city. Learn more about the campaign in our marketing and promotions report.
The community has embraced the patios, in particular at breweries, where they weren’t permitted before. We’ve been liaising with our local breweries and the City to make sure they are able to share their insights on how to make the patios permanent moving forward. This decision will be going to City Council in September where we plan to wholeheartedly support this positive impact for the brewery sector.
In Railtown, we helped navigate and obtain approvals for a Tailgate BBQ activation by Railtown Cafe to happen down the street from their cafe location. The three day event went off without a hitch in July, and it was fabulous to see community members, business members, and employees out in the sun, safely enjoying a delicious outdoor dining experience.
Community-Serving Retail Project
The Community-Serving Retail Project, running since 2017, is a collective initiative between the Strathcona BIA, Dunefield, and Youth Collaborative for Chinatown, with funding provided by the City of Vancouver. It’s mission is to partner with Chinese Benevolent Society Buildings and other non-profits in Strathcona and Chinatown to secure and repurpose currently unused or underused commercial space for affordable, culturally significant retail and businesses that support the community. With over 25 Chinese Benevolent Society buildings in Strathcona, this project has lots of potential in our district, and in the last year we’ve helped advocate for and received $216,725 in City funding for this project.
Following a first successful pilot in Chinatown with the re-opening of Kam Wai Dim Sum, the project team is now working with the Vancouver Buddhist Temple in Strathcona. They are aiming to create a community-based kitchen in their large building that benefits small food entrepreneurs and supports the Temple’s mission and finances. The first activation has recently started at the Temple, with a small soup and cold-pressed juice business now cooking there for a short time, while also serving the community with food donations and giving workshops on affordable, healthy cooking. We’re excited to see the Temple continue to welcome more community-minded food startups!
Oppenheimer and Strathcona Park
We continue to advocate for our parks and green spaces so that the community can enjoy them. Our advocacy around Oppenheimer Park began back in 2019 when we called for the return of the park to its original purpose as a green and social space. Other calls for action included asking for more support from the City for more access to clean water, public washrooms, and street cleaning resources. When another encampment started in Strathcona Park in mid-2020, we joined an appeal for action along with the Strathcona Residents Association, Produce Row, and Strathcona Community Policing Centre. A phased reopening of both parks has finally happened in 2021, involving collaboration of multiple levels of government, new housing opportunities for vulnerable community members, and community input and advocacy efforts on how best to reimagine the use of these important green spaces.
Drinker’s Lounge Project
In March 2021, in partnership with the City of Vancouver, Portland Hotel Society, VANDU, Vancouver Police and other stakeholders, we worked towards a solution to help address public drinking in front of the Astoria Hotel on East Hastings and at adjacent bus stops. After almost nine months of conflict, difficult conversations, trial and error, meetings with city engineers, and hard advocacy work, a pilot project emerged. The pilot involves a city-sanctioned parklet on Princess Ave where folks can go to drink safely and legally. There are social-service supports on-hand, medical attention on site, and more attention from the City, the VPD, and the SBIA in ensuring that drink activity is monitored, people are supported, and business concerns are addressed.
Since the launch of the pilot, a sense of community has emerged among people who use the space, and they have developed strong stewardship over the parklet area. Public drinking at the Astoria bus stops did not cease, however due to engagement by community groups and reporting by our Safety team, progress is being made, and we have noticed a stronger presence and support from the VPD when challenges arise at this location.
This project is a story of unlikely allies and we must continue to work together towards a vision for a safer community.
In the lead up to this year’s AGM we are sharing a series of reports with our business community on all that we’ve been up to in service to you, our members. First up, safety and sanitation!
We remain as committed as ever to delivering on programs that improve cleanliness and sanitation across the district. Helping to keep our streets clean and safe, and buildings graffiti-free is part of our core services to the Strathcona community. In the past year this has become more challenging, as the district continues to experience rising rates of graffiti. Advocating for more resources and new solutions was an important part of our work on these issues.
We partner with Coast Mental Health, United We Can, and Mission Possible Maintenance to provide street cleaning services in the Strathcona BIA district. These impactful partnerships create inclusive job opportunities for local people in our community. Between all program partners, team members have picked up over 1000+ bags of litter and 2960 needles across the entire district in the last year, working over 2411 hours or an average of 46 hours per week. Our teams are here to keep the area clean and support members each day.
Clearly, street litter is a big problem. Through advocacy efforts by the BIA’s, City Council approved additional funding for street cleaning programming city-wide, and allocated $2.1 million in funding for the 2021 Street Cleaning Grant Program. For the Downtown Eastside and Strathcona neighbourhoods this has resulted in an additional 18 micro-cleaning shifts per week. This allowed us to shift more resources towards specific areas of the district as well as our Private Property Debris Pick Up program. We helped complete 70 private property debris pick-ups this last year and make daily reports to VanConnect for debris in lanes and on public property, saving members over $10,000 in removal fees, plus their valuable time.
From Strathcona Pilot to City Service
A big point of pride for us this year was supporting the launch of the social enterprise, The Crap Trapper. Initiators Mark and Elwood saw a need in the community and stepped up to provide a valuable bio-waste pick-up service with support from the Strathcona BIA. Before this, no dedicated service existed for human and animal waste pick-up and removal, often leaving businesses on the hook to deal with this tough task on their own. The Strathcona BIA was a key player in identifying this need and called attention to this from the City. Since then, the program has not only expanded, but is now a City-provided and funded service that members can access through 3-1-1. Mark and Elwood joined forces with Mission Possible to continue to deliver the service, and Strathcona is benefitting from patrols, removals, and on-call service. While advocacy for more public washrooms continues, this has been a big win in improving sanitation across the district in 2021.
Members have access to a comprehensive graffiti removal program through our contract with Goodbye Graffiti Vancouver (a Strathcona business!). In the last few years, the overall size of a graffiti tag within the SBIA district has increased by 70%. The number of calls Goodbye Graffiti receives from the SBIA and members for graffiti removal has doubled in the past 1.5 years. Through our program, we have removed 7,386 graffiti tags in the district over the last year. SBIA members receive unlimited removals of tags 12 feet and under. The program also helped to remove 4,595 square feet of high level tags, a new service being offered through the program. It takes Goodbye Graffiti around 30 minutes to remove a tag the size of a small car from a painted surface. For porous surfaces, a graffiti tag the size of a small car takes around 45 min to remove. All labour, supply, and removal costs are covered within the scope of the program. These time and money savings add up for our members! This program also helps prevent City bylaw infractions and potential fees for our property owners and businesses.
In partnership with other BIA districts across Vancouver we successfully advocated for and secured more funding to handle this challenging issue. We received $35,000, one of the highest amounts from the City of Vancouver, for additional graffiti removal services. This funding will enhance our ability to target graffitti and leverage your levy contributions even further. As always, we also continue to think outside the box on solutions for the rise in graffiti tagging, with initiatives like meaningful mural art with respected local artists, working with the VPD to allocate more preventative resources, and connecting with other community partners to raise the impacts that graffiti has on our members, especially small businesses.
Members can call 604-789-4143, seven days a week from 8am-8pm to reach our safety patrol team who dedicated 6,126 hours to keeping members, customers, and the community safe over the past year. Everyday our compassionate patrol team is on the ground in the district, responding quickly to member needs and connecting with community members. The safety team is our most used program and we are consistently working towards ensuring our approach to community safety is responsible, valued, and holistic. With this in mind, we launched our first annual safety survey this year to better understand how Strathcona BIA members feel about safety in the neighbourhood. Advocacy, Environmental Safety, and Patrols emerged as the priority areas for investment. We received 64 completed surveys, representing 113 businesses and properties across Strathcona. We’re excited to build on this feedback and future engagement to develop a new and strong community safety model for the Strathcona BIA. Stay tuned for updates!
Advocacy is an enormous part of our work in all of these areas. For more on our advocacy efforts and impacts read our advocacy report.
This year our Annual General Meeting will take place on Thursday September 23rd from 3pm to 4:30pm. Details on how to register, vote, and participate at this year’s AGM will be mailed out to all members in late August. We currently anticipate an online meeting. We look forward to seeing our members at the AGM!
Call for Director Nominations
The Strathcona BIA Board of Directors actively works to build a thriving, mixed-use and resilient local economy here in Strathcona. 2021 marks the third year of a five year strategic plan for the organization and the Board of Directors is currently focused on balancing the pressing needs of its members through challenges brought on by COVID-19.
Who we’re looking for
We are currently seeking business members with particular experience and skills in governance and marketing. Members with a diversity of experience and interests in areas like placemaking, local economic development, community safety, HR, and a passion for Strathcona, are also encouraged to apply.
How we work
The Board can have a maximum of 12 directors and all directors must meet the needs and expectations of the role and responsibilities as outlined in the Election Guidelines. There are seven director seats up for election with four incumbent directors running for a new term.
The length of a term for an SBIA Board Director is two years. Our meetings take place monthly for one and half hours over lunch and are currently hosted on Zoom. Board Members can be property owners, business tenants, or an authorized representative of an SBIA member property or business. Property owners must make up the majority of the Board per SBIA bylaws.
How to apply
Interested members can download the SBIA Candidate Nomination & Election Guidelines Package here or call the SBIA office to request a paper package for mail out. All nomination packages must be complete and received either by email or dropped off in person at the SBIA office, no later than noon on July 15, 2021. All candidates are subject to the Election guidelines (as laid out in your nominations package). Candidates are also required to meet with a member of the Elections Committee over Zoom to be eligible for election.
SBIA office: 1220 E Hastings St, Vancouver, BC, V6A 1S6
Hours: 9:30AM – 4:30PM Monday to Friday
Dear Strathcona BIA members,
The 2020 Annual General Meeting (AGM) will go virtual this year on Thursday, September 24th, from 10:00 am – 11:30 am. The virtual meeting lobby will open at 9:45 am. AGM programming will start at 10:00 am.
To help us follow physical distancing measures and provincial health guidelines, members are being asked to participate in this year’s AGM virtually by phone or online using a computer/tablet. The virtual AGM will be hosted on the online platform, GoToWebinar. Once we’ve received your completed membership application form, you’ll receive an email with details about how to use the meeting platform, including how to test and troubleshoot any technical issues on your computer, tablet, or phone prior to the AGM. We strongly suggest members test our online platform prior to the AGM to ensure they can participate fully during the meeting.
If you plan on attending the AGM, please complete and submit your membership application form to the SBIA by Thursday, September 17th at 10 am as this determines your eligibility to vote. You can also submit a hard copy application through mail, fax, or in-person. Hard copies of the application form can be downloaded here.
In your AGM Package you will find:
- AGM Official Notice and how to participate
- Letter from the Board
- Proposed Budget for the 2021/2022 fiscal year
- Special member resolutions
- Membership Application Form
To download a copy of the materials above please click here. Since we’re not able to meet in person this year, all members are also receiving a mailout version of their AGM package, so look out for hard copy materials in your mailbox.
In addition to the materials above, the following are available for download:
- Audited Financials for the 2019/2020 fiscal year
- 2019 AGM Minutes
- Board of Director Biographies
- SBIA Member Guide
If you didn’t receive hard copies of any of the documents listed above, please contact the SBIA office at email@example.com or call 604-258-2727. We hope to see you (virtually) on Thursday, September 24th!
In kindness, calmness, and safety,
Your SBIA Board of Directors and SBIA StaffRead More
Strathcona BIA 2020 AGM Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Hello members and welcome to the SBIA 2020 AGM FAQ. Over the course of a year, we receive questions and inquiries from members in person, through email, or social media regarding how the BIA works. We’ve collected some questions and responses and posted them below. This is a living document and will be updated periodically (we’ll post newer content towards the top.) Eventually, it will transition to a permanent FAQ page on the new SBIA website. Thank you for your interest in the SBIA!
For details on how to participate in this year’s virtual AGM on September 24th please visit the 2020 AGM Package here.
How many properties are there in Strathcona versus how many businesses?
There are 435 businesses as of July 31, 2020 operating in Strathcona across 422 properties.
Approximately how many employees work in the district of Strathcona?
According to 2016 census data, we know there to be approximately over 6500 different people who work in our district.
What does it mean to be a member of the SBIA?
Technically, there are two types of members of the Strathcona Business Improvement Association:
You will often hear us refer to you as “our members.” These are property owners, authorized representatives, and business owners and tenants alike, all of whom pay a levy to the city, whether it’s directly through your tax payments or indirectly through your rent. As levy-paying members of the Strathcona BIA, you benefit from the programs and services we provide. To be a levy-paying-member-in-good-standing means you are the property owner of a class-5 or class-6 commercial property or are a tenant in a class-5 or class-6 property with a valid business license within the Strathcona BIA boundaries.
The Strathcona BIA is a non-profit organization accountable to the British Columbia Societies Act. Members in-good-standing of the society of the Strathcona Business Improvement Association have formally registered and/or renewed their annual registration which entitles them to vote at our AGM. This is where members can help determine who serves on the board and provide considerations to the board when it comes to the annual budget and levy.
How does the Levy work?
All Business Improvement Associations are funded through a special tax levy applied to each property. Each commercial property within the boundary is taxed in proportion to its total taxable value. This means that if a property is worth 1% of the total value of the area then that property pays 1% of the BIA levy. Individual member levies in a given year are based on a combination of three things:
- The total BIA levy
- If your property value has increased or decreased compared to other properties
- The overall total property value of the area.
The Strathcona BIA operates within a 7-year levy and funding cap of $7,449,000 approved by the membership at our 2016 Renewal. This means from 2017 – 2024, the SBIA cannot collectively levy its members more than $7.449 million dollars.
If you were to add up all the property values across the district, how much would it be?
$1.7 Billion Dollars (as of June 30, 2020)
What is the role of the City of Vancouver with a BIA?
The City of Vancouver is involved with the annual funding process, monitoring of BIA budgets, and acting as a liaison between the BIA and City departments. It helps ensure the BIA is operating in compliance with the Vancouver City Charter. BIAs are not City departments or arms of the municipal government.
What are the details behind the Tax Shift that occurred in 2019?
On April 29th, 2019, Vancouver City Council voted in favour of a 2% tax shift from commercial property tax to residential over the next three years. The tax roll shifted one per cent in 2019, 0.5 per cent in 2020 and is scheduled to shift another 0.5% in 2021. Businesses that own or are a tenant in an average commercial property likely experienced an approximate savings of $508 in 2019. Currently, businesses shoulder 42% of the property tax burden while consuming only 23% of City services. Vancouver has not seen a tax shift like this, from commercial to residential, since 2012, and the shift was the result of coordinated and dedicated advocacy by Vancouver BIAs on behalf of their members.
How does the SBIA Board of Directors build its budget?
The SBIA Board of Directors, with support from staff, begins consideration of the following year’s budget in March of each year. This marks the end of one fiscal year and the beginning of the next. Building a budget one year out requires the Board to make multiple considerations. First and foremost, the board considers the needs of members – both property owners and business tenants alike – across the commercial district. It takes into consideration the strategic plan and vision for the district, as well as the cost of running the organization year over year. It confirms whether there is a surplus and any internal requirements to maintain a contingency in the budget. For the past several years, our budgets have passed unanimously among our members who attend the AGM:
- 2017/2018: Unanimous Member Approval at AGM
- 2018/2019: Unanimous Member Approval at AGM
- 2019/2020: Unanimous Member Approval at AGM
The $7.449 million levy cap was also passed by unanimous member approval at the 2016 AGM.
Who is eligible to vote at the AGM?
In order to cast a vote, you must be a member in good standing of the Society of the Strathcona BIA. This membership is achieved by registering for the AGM using the form provided in the annual AGM package each year prior to the meeting. You must also be a property owner of a class “5” or class “6” property, and/or must be tenants of a property owner of a class “5” or class “6” property within the Strathcona Business Improvement Association’s boundaries for six months prior to the date of registration as shown on the current City of Vancouver Tax Assessment Roll or have signed a lease for an unexpired term of no less than six months from the date of the application.
How does the SBIA make decisions regarding vendor contracts and expenses?
The SBIA Board is responsible for establishing and maintaining a Procurement Policy that governs contracts, purchasing, and staff expense decisions. This policy is an active document that outlines thresholds and conditions for which expenses and contracts can be undertaken by staff and identifies where board oversight rests. The Policy governs supply and expense decisions and is reviewed by the board annually.
Our organization depends on consistent and on-going programming. This requires on-going service and benefits from a policy that ensures the board maintains line of sight while providing the tools we need to discern and identify the top benefit to our members. The SBIA Procurement Policy directs the board and staff on how to consider and administer requests for proposals and the required number of quotes/bids from potential vendors while managing any conflicts of interest, real or perceived. To the fullest extent possible and when reasonable, the SBIA makes its best effort to source purchases from within the SBIA membership.
Why does the City’s version of the SBIA budget look different than the budget presented to members at the AGM?
Prior to the start of a BIA’s fiscal year, Vancouver City Council approves all 22 BIA budgets. The organization and content of the 22 BIA budgets can vary considerably due to differences in governance and approach, and it was difficult for City Council to compare the various budgets presented in the annual BIA Budgets Council report (this is usually presented early in the calendar year after BIAs have all hosted their AGMs.) To address this, all 22 BIAs use a standard template provided by the City for the annual Council report only, which requires re-categorizing their revenues and expenses for comparison purposes. Each year BIAs populate this template and city staff use it to create a document for the Council report so that Council members can easily review to compare the generalized expenditure categories. The original member-approved AGM presentation budgets are still attached, unaltered, to the Council report for reference as appendices. While each BIA practice is different, the Strathcona BIA takes time to note down our thinking and decisions for allocating and restating our budgets with the City. We share our work with City staff so they better understand how we arrived at the re-categorized budget.
Who is eligible to serve as an SBIA Board Director?
Per our by-laws, in order to serve as an SBIA director, members must be a property owner of a Class 5 or Class 6 property located within the Strathcona Business Improvement Association Area or be a tenant who leases, sub-leases or rents a Class 5 or Class 6 property within the boundaries. If you are a tenant business member, you must hold a valid City of Vancouver business license. A member must also be a member in good standing and have submitted a society membership application at least six months prior to the close of nominations, in order to be eligible to serve as a director.
Are there more property owners on the SBIA Board? Or business tenants?
Per our bylaws, the SBIA Board of Directors maintains a majority of Property Owners on the board.
How many staff currently work at the SBIA?
The SBIA employs three full time staff: One Executive Director and two managers. Our Community Safety team works on contract and reports directly to staff.Read More
Dear Strathcona BIA members,
Please join us at the Annual General Meeting & Members? Luncheon:
Please contact the Strathcona BIA office for a copy of the membership form to be eligable to vote at the AGM. Forms must be completed and emailed, faxed or mailed the to the SBIA bySeptember 23. Forms will not be accepted after this time.
To be a voting member you must have been a property owner of tenant of a class 5 or class 6 property within the Strathcona BIA’s boundaries for six months prior to the date of registration as shown on the current City of Vancouver Tax Assessment Roll.
Non-members, unless invited otherwise are not permitted to attend this event.
To RSVP for the event please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call the SBIA office at 604-258-2727Read More