Note from Theodora Lamb, SBIA Executive Director
Dear SBIA Members,
The notice of your latest property assessment arrived on January 2nd, 2020. For tenants who have not seen a copy you can reach out to your property owner or manager or look up your assessment at bcassessment.ca. The SBIA has created a toolkit for members to help guide you through your property assessment decision and navigate the appeal process if that’s a step you choose to take.
We know that rising property tax has been one of the greatest challenges facing local businesses in Strathcona. Last year, the SBIA introduced the Strathcona Tax Empowerment Program (STEP). As part of STEP, every member of the SBIA benefited from a commercial tax agent’s opinion on their 2019 commercial property assessment. Approximately 14% of members chose to engage the agent, and nine of those properties were successful in their appeals. They achieved a combined tax savings of $195,000 and an overall reduction in property assessment value of $15,237,395.
For 2020 we want to equip you with the tools to investigate the appeal process. Working with a tax agent is also an option for those wanting professional support. Tax agents give you the option to pay a pre-determined rate or work on a contingency basis. Please reach out to the SBIA office at 604-258-2727 or email firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like an agent recommendation.
Please don’t hesitate to reach out to the SBIA with any questions you have regarding the property assessment appeal process.
Executive Director, Strathcona BIARead More
The following letter was sent by the Strathcona BIA to Mayor Stewart, Vancouver City Councillors, Parks Board Commissioners and the office of the Vancouver City Manager on January 6th, 2020.
Businesses operating in and around Oppenheimer Park are no longer in a position to safely support staff and customers coming into the community. The Strathcona Business Improvement Association (SBIA) is calling upon City and Parks Board Officials for the immediate housing of park residents and a detailed timeline on when the housing will occur.
In August 2019, the SBIA surveyed its members regarding activity in Oppenheimer Park. 83% of SBIA members surveyed agreed efforts should be made to return the park to its original purpose as a green, recreation and social space. The Strathcona BIA committed, on behalf of its members, to closely watch how the city and parks board proceed in addressing the concerns raised by local businesses in the survey results.
Unfortunately, over the last six months, the Strathcona BIA has only seen conditions worsen for both park residents and business members operating next to or near the park. The recent death that occurred in the park on January 1, 2020, is a tragic tipping point and the Strathcona BIA feels a responsibility to raise its concerns on behalf of its members with city and parks board officials, calling for support to prioritize housing immediately.
The Strathcona Safety team works to support over 800 SBIA members. This includes operating a two-person safety team 7 days a week, 8 hours a day who monitor 44 city square blocks across seven sub-districts and respond to business member needs and safety concerns.
From July 2019 to January 2020, the Strathcona BIA safety team reported that 46.9% of their time was spent in the Downtown Eastside Oppenheimer District (DEOD) which includes Oppenheimer Park, resulting in 2,704 unique reports. That is 2.8 times more than any other sub-district the Strathcona BIA monitors and a 5% jump from the first half of 2019 when the initial survey results were reported out.
Our safety team members take every precaution to ensure their own safety is prioritized so they can address the needs and concerns of Strathcona BIA members. Given the recent activity in Oppenheimer, the Strathcona BIA can no longer direct its safety team to walk through or even along the perimeter of the park, leaving businesses surrounding the park more vulnerable.
The SBIA has also noted a significant increase in trash and debris along the perimeter of the park. Micro-cleaners from Strathcona-based Mission Possible, a social enterprise that employs individuals who face barriers to traditional employment, spend up to 16 hours each week cleaning the Oppenheimer area. From in and around the park, on average, Mission Possible picks up 7.7 needles per hour and fills 12 large garbage bags of debris each week. . After the release of our report last summer, the Strathcona BIA increased street cleaning around the park in response to members citing “Health & Cleanliness” as one of their primary park concerns. From late September to early December, the SBIA implemented an additional eight street cleaning hours in the DEOD per week.
Frustration is growing among business members who continue to feel the impact of park activity on their staff, sales, and connection with the community. Given the role businesses serve in and around Oppenheimer Park in contributing to the local economy and further supporting community connections, we request the City of Vancouver and Vancouver Parks Board provide Strathcona BIA members with an immediate response regarding next steps.
Executive Director, Strathcona BIARead More
There are plenty of delightful and uniquely Strathcona events happening in our neck of the woods this time of year. We’re excited to share some our must-do Strathcona holiday activities with you.
First up, fulfill all your plant dreams at The Garden, Strathcona Plant Sale and Holiday Pop-Up shop this weekend. Plus discover amazing local vendors making ceramics, jewelry, cards and more. Happening Dec.14th and 15th, 11am til 4pm at 868 E Hastings.
@peacepeopleproject on Instagram
Experience the Zero-Waste Vegan Holiday market happening Sunday, Dec.15th at The Pace, 520 Alexander from 11am-5pm. Brought to you by Peace People Project, this event has your #zerowaste holiday shopping covered with gift ideas like fabric bulk shopping bags, bath and beauty products, and zwv meal prep memberships.
Ever wanted to learn how to DIY your own oat milk or your own toothpaste? There will be free workshops all day to learn how to DIY zero waste products. Bring your own containers, cups, cutlery (BYOCs) and enjoy amazing vegan hot foods and bevvies. Find all the details at the event facebook page.
@luppolo_brewing on Instagram
Still on the hunt for the perfect Christmas tree? Aunt Leah’s Tree Lot is back at Luppolo Brewing Company this year. Open today from 1-8pm and this Sat-Sun 10am-8pm at 1123 Venables Street. Proceeds help fund programs that prevent homelessness for youth in foster care and moms in need. Come for a beer, leave with a tree, and support important community work.
@cheese_ladf on Instagram
A visit to les amis du FROMAGE at 843 E Hastings is a Strathcona Holiday must-do. Their shelves are stocked with Christmas specialities like Port-soaked Stilton and Scottish shortbread, plus the best selection of local and imported cheeses and charcuterie. Find everything you need to make the perfect holiday spread. If you hurry you may still get your hands on their famous house made Tourtiere (Quebec meat pie), made only at this time of year.
An extra special selection of sweet treats will be available Dec.20th when Scrape Baking is popping up at the shop from 1pm-6pm (or until sold out). Tis the season to eat cookies. And cheese.
An important must-do for the holiday season is to connect and gather with friends and family. We have some fabulous new food and beverage establishments in Strathcona that might just be the perfect new gathering places for you and your loved ones – places to delight beer lovers, wine lovers and coffee lovers alike!
Container Brewing, Yeast Van’s latest brewery lounge, is officially open at 1216 Franklin St. Co-founders Terry Brown and Dan Webster have literally been building this space with their own barehands over the last few months and their efforts have paid off. Come for the tasty beer and stay for the warm and inviting space. Plus with dishes like the mushroom barley bowl and palenta bowl, their food menu can seriously fill you up. Open Mon-Wed 3pm-10pm, Th-Sat 11am-12am and Sun 11am-10pm.
@vv.tapaslounge on Instagram
VV Tapas Lounge is a brand new gathering space at 957 E Hastings where you’ll find artfully prepared small plates, locally and internationally sourced wines, craft beers and ciders. Prepare to be enamoured with the beautiful design of their space, open Tues-Sat 4pm-11pm. Their happy hour menu have us eyeing their extensive $4 Apertivo selection. Happy hour runs each day they are open 4pm-6pm, and 9pm-close.
@prototype.coffee on Instagram
Prototype Coffee is a new microroastery in Strathcona, tucked away at 883 East Hastings. They source unique, beautiful, and traceable coffees. All of their roasting for brewing, retail, and wholesale happens in three small Aillio Bullet R1 roasters located right behind the counter in their tasting room. Plus they offer over 14 different coffees at any given time. The experience here is not to be missed by coffee enthusiasts out there. Open Mon-Fri 8am-5pm and Sat 9am-5pm.
Our final must-do activity on our list is to give back to one of the many fabulous community-serving organizations in our neighbourhood. There are so many opportunities to make a difference in this community, especially at this time of year.
This is by no means an exahustive list, but here are some organizations doing great work to serve those in need in our community:
Wishing a wonderful holiday season to all!Read More
First, some context on the Arterial Route decision.
Decision makers have long debated the best route for a new East-West arterial route through the False Creek Flats/South Strathcona when the viaducts come down.
In 2019 a Flats Arterial Community Panel was established to make a recommendation on the route. After four months of in-depth engagement and deliberation on the topic, the panel recommended a National Avenue-Charles Street arterial alignment.
Then this Fall, when the Panel’s recommendation to Council was reconsidered, we saw the residential community of Strathcona rally over the future of Prior Street.
The route decision was made more complicated by the intention of CN Rail to twin the Burrard Spur Rail Line. There are to be no at-grade-crossings with the rail tracks.
Council has now made a decision.
On October 2nd Vancouver City Council voted to support the construction of an underpass at no cost to the City along Prior Street at the Burrard Inlet Rail Line (just after Raymur Ave). Our understanding of the “no cost” piece is that the underpass component of the project will have to be funded in full by CN Rail and other stakeholders. In the same motion decision, Council also voted in a number of recommendations that will downgrade Prior to a “collector” road.
Collector roads serve to collect traffic from local streets to access arterial streets or distribute traffic from arterial streets to local streets.
The intention is to permanently reduce Prior Street to one lane in each direction. To do this, a pilot phase of various restrictions will be introduced, including 24/7 parking in the outer lanes. During the pilot phase, impacts to traffic on other local streets will be closely monitored.
Captured in the decision is the intention for Prior Street to benefit from better public realm treatment, including better sidewalks with improved walkability measures. Also included in the decision is a speed limit of 30km along Strathcona Park. City right-of-ways are to be retained on Malkin Ave so that truck traffic can be prioritized off Prior.
Pilot phase measures to calm Prior could be implemented as early as January 2020. The goal is to use Pilot phase learnings to inform the final design of Prior Street as a “great street”. In the infrastructure building phase (timeline unknown), we can expect to see wider sidewalks, more green infrastructure, street trees, curb bulges, and beautification measures such as banners, crosswalk murals, and possibly public art initiatives.
For those that want to read all 12 recommendations in the Council decision in detail, you can view the meeting minutes here. The final motion as approved starts on page 19.
There’s still a lot that we don’t know.
- It’s unclear how long the pilot phase will run for.
- Will the pilot phase measures solve current traffic safety concerns along Prior? Will they create problems on other local roads?
- It’s unclear on when funding and timelines will be determined for the build of the underpass.
- How will commercial properties and local businesses impacted by the underpass location and construction be supported?
- What are the plans for the other at-grade rail crossings in the neighbourhood?
- Unrelated to this specific Council decision, what are the expected traffic impacts along this corridor when the St.Paul’s Hospital construction begins? (Plans were officially approved on November 5th, 2019).
Let us know if you have other questions or thoughts to add to this list. We’re keen to learn about how SBIA members are impacted (both positively or negatively) by the coming changes to Prior Street. Please be in touch with email@example.com with your questions, concerns, or observations.Read More
Strathcona BIA Special Report
August 13 2019, xwməθkwəy̓ əm (Musqueam), sḵwxwú7mesh (Squamish) and səl̓ílwətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) unceded territories/Vancouver, BC — When it comes to Oppenheimer Park and the recent surge in camping activity, a majority of businesses in the neighbourhood agree that the park should be allowed to be a park once again. A new survey by the Strathcona Business Improvement Association found that 83% of business respondents operating in and around Oppenheimer Park agree efforts should be made to return the park to its original purpose as a green and social space. 83% of business respondents agreed efforts should be made to return the park to its original purpose The survey comes roughly a year after campers occupied the park. Today it’s estimated that there are close to 130 campers living in Oppenheimer. The Strathcona BIA serves over 850 business members in Vancouver’s Eastside community, including many directly surrounding the park. It was time to hear from them directly on how park activity has impacted their ability to participate in the community and the local economy.
Survey Themes and Business Impacts
Strathcona BIA members surveyed revealed responses from the role park space plays in the community to what the city could do to address and support campers living in the park. According to Strathcona BIA Executive Director, Theo Lamb, the results were mixed with a few specific themes and messages emerging. One thing that is clear is that businesses in and around Oppenheimer Park feel strongly that action needs to occur.
What that action looks like and how to arrive at it varied from respondent to respondent. In the survey, 88% of all respondents agreed that the Strathcona BIA has a role to play in advocacy regarding park activity.
Most concerning were reports directly from the businesses who cited loss of customers, an inability to retain staff due to feelings around lack of safety and, in one case, the closure of a business’s community serving retail location. One business in the immediate vicinity noted “the number of violent incidents has spiked in the time since it has become a tent city” and that “the number of times we have had to call 911 has risen beyond a point of reasonable expectation.” Themes of empathy and care for the campers emerged with several respondents recognizing the challenging task ahead of housing folks facing multiple barriers. One business responded that “we can’t just kick those campers out, they need somewhere to go” and another noting “I have empathy for the campers/homeless people in the park.” Several respondents indicated a preference to work to find appropriate housing alternatives first. Not surprising is the call for more support from the city in the form of:
- clean water
- more access to social services
- additional garbage bins
More bathroom access would go a long way to provide basic, humane services for campers, and in helping businesses in the area who are often left with clean up and sanitation issues in the front streets and back alleys. We only recently were able to arrange city lane flushing down the alleyways in and around Oppenheimer Park, but it’s not enough. Campers and community members need access to washrooms that stretch from day into night. While the SBIA did ask businesses if they supported a city-sanctioned tent city, an idea raised in the media recently, only 17% of business respondents reported being open to the concept. Of those respondents, several people indicated emergency housing should be dispersed throughout the City, while others felt it shouldn’t be in a city park at all. 17% of businesses open to the concept of a city-sanctioned tent city As the City of Vancouver considers its next steps, Lamb says the Strathcona BIA will continue to do its part through micro-cleaning services and the Strathcona BIA Community Safety Patrol team that responds to business member calls.
Micro-cleaners from Strathcona-based Mission Possible, a social enterprise that employs individuals who face barriers to traditional employment, spend up to 16 hours each week cleaning the area. On average, Mission Possible picks up 7.7 needles per hour and fills 12 large garbage bags of debris in and around the park each week over two 8 hour shifts. Over the last seven months (January to July 2019), the Strathcona BIA safety team has reported that 42 percent of their time has been spent in the DEOD (Downtown Eastside Oppenheimer District) in and around Oppenheimer Park. That is 2.63 times more than any other sub-district the Strathcona BIA monitors and almost a quarter increase from the year before.
Lamb reflects that the Strathcona BIA intends to watch closely how the city proceeds with addressing park activity and, in the meantime, will continue to respond to the more immediate safety and sanitation needs of businesses working to keep open doors and open minds to issues that, ultimately, are the responsibility of an entire city.
Results from the survey represent Strathcona Business Improvement Association members surveyed online July 31st, 2019 through to August 8th, 2019. 59 unique members responded. Respondents were invited to answer 3 questions that included the opportunity to provide an open-ended response of which 45 respondents completed. The Strathcona BIA respects the privacy of its over 850 business members and hence quotations, while pulled directly from the survey, remain anonymous. Members in good standing with the Strathcona BIA are businesses and community-serving organizations within the SBIA catchment with valid business licenses.
About the Strathcona BIA
The Strathcona Business Improvement Association (SBIA) operates on the unceded territories of the xwməθkwəy̓ əm (Musqueam), sḵwxwú7mesh (Squamish) and səl̓ílwətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations. It extends from Clark Drive in the east, Gore Avenue in the west, Venables Street in the south and Railway Street in the north. The SBIA employs staff and is governed by an elected Board of Directors made up of business members from across the community. Our vision is for Strathcona members to thrive in a mixed-use, inclusive, resilient and prosperous local economy. Our mission is to promote a strong local economy through advocacy, cultivating relationships, supporting business participation in the community, delivering innovative programs and fostering community leaders.
For More Information/Media Contact:
Theo Lamb, Executive Director, Strathcona BIA
T: 778-773-3811Read More
The Strathcona BIA Annual General Meeting takes place on Thursday, September 26th, 2019 at The Settlement Building.
Call for Nominations
The Strathcona BIA Board of Directors actively works to build a thriving, mixed-use and resilient local economy here in Strathcona. This year the board will take on the first year of a five year renewed strategic plan which we will share at our upcoming AGM. Do you want to be a part of the community-building and place-branding done on behalf of businesses across Strathcona?
We want to hear from you.
We are seeking business leaders with particular experience and skills in governance, HR and advocacy to join our board of directors.
Submit an Expression of Interest
Please reach out to the SBIA at firstname.lastname@example.org with your expression of interest to serve on the SBIA board no later than September 1, 2019.
The SBIA Board is currently made up of 9 directors, 7 of which are mid-way through their term and 2 of which are up for re-election. The membership can elect up to 12 directors for those who qualify and meet the needs and expectations of the role and responsibilities. Board Members can be property owners, business tenants or an authorized representative of an SBIA member property. Property owners must make up the majority of the SBIA Board. All candidates are required to meet with a member of the Executive Committee and the SBIA Executive director as well as complete a nomination package to be eligible for election.
This year the AGM takes place on Thursday, Sept. 26th, 2019 at the Settlement Building. We look forward to seeing our members there!Read More
In early 2019, the Strathcona Business Improvement Association Board turned their attention to renewing the SBIA Strategic Plan.
With the help of Lucent Quay Consulting, the SBIA engaged members through a survey and 1-to-1 interviews in February 2019 to help guide the development of new strategic goals. The purpose of the consultation was to receive feedback from SBIA members on past SBIA performance and gain insight into members priorities. The member feedback received was presented to the SBIA Board ahead of their two-day strategic planning workshop. The survey and interview results provided valuable insights to help inform our next five-year strategic plan (2019 2024) including potential new and ongoing initiatives.
What we did
An initial email was sent to members in February 2019, notifying them of the Strategic Plan review, consultation timeline and link to the online 12-question survey. The survey was open for a week with a reminder to members sent part-way through.
The SBIA also identified a cross-section of members from varying sectors and geographical areas of the SBIA to be contacted for 1-to-1 interviews.
38 SBIA members completed the online survey and six 1-to-1 interviews were conducted.
What we asked
The survey was comprised of four sections:
- SBIA Performance Provided an opportunity for feedback on overall satisfaction with the SBIA over the past year.
- SBIA Member Priorities Asked respondents about the SBIA members priorities and goals for the remaining of the Strategic Plan.
- Challenges and Strengths Asked respondents about the strengths and challenges facing the SBIA.
- About Your Business Asked respondents about their business.
Highlights of Results
84% of respondents are satisfied with the SBIA overall
Areas where respondents are extremely satisfied (rank 8-10) with the SBIA’s effectiveness are:
- Enhancing community safety through dialogue, partnerships, and collaboration
- Establishing priorities and budgets that reflect the SBIA mission
- Developing innovative programs that support and celebrate sustainability amongst members and the community
The greatest challenges identified by SBIA members are:
- Branding of the SBIA & Community
- Taxation and high cost of doing business
- Gentrification and new development
- Parking/Transit Infrastructure
Respondents felt some of the greatest opportunities for the SBIA are:
- Retaining its culture and arts environment
- Abundance of industrial land compared to the rest of Vancouver
- Unique development zoning to attract new businesses
- Marketing the unique businesses that call Strathcona home
Respondents identified key priorities for the future as:
- Advocacy with VPD and City of Vancouver initiatives
- Safety and Security enhancements
- Commercial taxation advocacy
Here are those key priorities that members identified broken down into numbers. Top ratings went to working with VPD and the City, street cleaning and sanitation, and the mobile patrol safety team. Graffiti removal and commercial taxation advocacy also rounded out the activities that more than 75% of members indicated are important, as illustrated in the table below.
Question #4: On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being not at all important and 10 being extremely important, in terms of new or ongoing activities of the SBIA, how important do you think the following activities are to the overall success of the SBIA? For each element, please select the number that best describes your opinion.
An additional takeaway from the in-person interviews was that the SBIA could enhance success with a stronger commitment to member engagement, by creating a greater awareness of initiatives, by clearly defining metrics for success and by providing regular progress reports.
Respondents included a mix of long-tenure and newer businesses in Strathcona and a mix of sizes ranging from 1-3 employees to 50 or more.
Most respondents were operating businesses, whether through lease or as an owner/operator within the BIA.
Respondents represented a range of sectors with a number of them belonging to the manufacturing, printing and publishing, and service sectors.
What we did next
Informed by the results of the consultation, the SBIA Board of Directors and Staff took part in a two-day strategic planning session facilitated by Lucent Quay Consulting. Over these energized two days, some new strategic goals began to emerge. These were further refined by the Executive Committee, and staff went to work on developing a strategic framework for these new goals. The Board passed the new strategic plan in May 2019.
Staff are in the early stages of developing work plans to support the new Strategic Plan and look forward to officially launching the plan and framework to members at the Annual General Meeting. This year the AGM takes place on Thursday, Sept. 26th, 2019 at the Settlement Building. We look forward to seeing our members there!Read More
The Strathcona BIA noted a dramatic increase in 2019 property values. The SBIA Board of Directors took action to support our members in the face of rising commercial property tax with a SBIA-wide review and appeal approach. Every member of the SBIA benefited from a commercial tax agent�s opinion on their 2019 commercial property assessment. Those properties recommended for appeal were filed collectively by the SBIA. All members were notified in print or by e-mail with next steps and options depending on the results of their appeal recommendation.
34% of all properties in the Strathcona BIA area were recommended for appeal.
Properties Reviewed: 402
Recommended for Appeal: 137
Not Recommended for Appeal: 265
The key factors that supported grounds for an appeal included:
Assessed value is higher than market value
Market sales are analyzed by BC Assessment to determine market value of properties. Due to differences between properties, some are over assessed based on the sales.
55% of recommended properties
Errors in income approach
An appeal may be warranted based on the income approach if the rents or leasable area applied by BC assessment is not reflective of market for the property type.
36% of recommended properties
Physical characteristics misrepresented
An appeal may be warranted if the assessor has misrepresented the size of the building on a property or the lot size itself.
0.7% of recommended properties
The taxpayer has the right to be assessed at the “lesser of” market value or comparable assessments.
9% of recommended properties
Classification determines which tax rate applies to your property. If you feel your property has been misclassified this would warrant an appeal.
insufficient information at time of investigation.
Approximately 14% of members recommended for appeal opted to work with our agent to pursue action. Others decided to represent themselves or work with other commercial tax agents. Some property owners withdrew appeals or took no action, resulting in expired appeals.
BC Property Assessment Appeal Process Timeline
We’ve created an appeal process timeline to help you plan for next year.� For detailed information on the BC assessment appeal process visit:
www.bcassessment.ca�(1st level of appeal)
www.assessmentappeal.bc.ca�(2nd level of appeal)
Get in touch with your appeal story.
The SBIA is collecting the neighbourhood wide results for a full report back to the membership in the Fall.
If you would like to share your appeal process story and results with us, please reach out below.
Call Us: (604) 258-2727
Email: email@example.comRead More
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 will shift one per cent in 2019 and 0.5 per cent in both 2020 and 2021. Businesses that own or are a tenant in an average commercial property can expect savings of $508 in 2019. Currently, businesses shoulder 42% of the property tax burden while consuming only 23% of City services.
As part of our ongoing commercial tax advocacy in service to our members, SBIA Executive Director Theo Lamb, along with several other BIA leaders, spoke to Council in person and ultimately made the winning case that led to a majority Vancouver City Councillor vote in favour of this tax shift.
Vancouver has not seen a tax shift since 2012. We see this as a positive first step in addressing the unfair tax burden shouldered by the business community of Vancouver. There are many issues and drivers that contribute to high property taxes, and we look forward to working with stakeholders and the City to advocate for continued solutions and policies that provide relief to our commercial property owners and tenant businesses and organizations.Read More