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 email@example.com 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: firstname.lastname@example.orgRead 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
There are many small steps one can take to offer support to those experiencing homelessness in our community. The City of Vancouver has developed a resource page with information on actions you can take in different circumstances. It is always important to check in with the person you are concerned about in a safe and compassionate manner to see if they want help, and from there you can use the resources below to assist.
To learn more about sanitation-related services offered by the City of Vancouver and the Strathcona BIA check out this blog post.Read More
At the beginning of the year, commercial property owners across the city are issued a notice of property assessment. This is the value BC Assessment Authority places on your property based on market value and its highest and best potential use.
The Strathcona BIA has noted a dramatic increase in property values for 2019 and we’re taking action to support our members in the face of rising commercial property tax and its implications. Read on to learn what we’re doing, why we’re doing it and next steps.
After much consideration, the Strathcona BIA Board of Directors has decided to commission a commercial tax agent, Paul Sullivan of Burgess, Cawley, Sullivan & Associates Ltd., to review all SBIA member properties.
This means every member of the SBIA benefits from a professional legal opinion regarding their 2019 commercial property assessment. The agent will then determine if a member has merit or grounds to appeal their assessment ahead of the January 31st deadline. If you are a property recommended for appeal, it will automatically be filed on your behalf. If you’ve already initiated an appeal, our action will not negatively impact it.
Our commercial tax agent, Paul Sullivan, draws from many different data sources and considerable experience to arrive at his recommendations. There is no guarantee our agent will recommend your property for appeal.
Properties with Grounds for Appeal
If an appeal is filed on your behalf, we’ll contact you with the information you need should you wish to proceed with your appeal process after January 31st including:
- The opportunity to learn more about what an appeal could mean for your property, business or organization
- The opportunity to engage Burgess, Cawley, Sullivan & Associates Ltd. or a commercial tax agent of your choice to represent you through the appeal process
- The decision to drop the appeal if it doesn’t serve you
- The decision to take no action therefore allowing the appeal to expire after March 15, 2019
The SBIA will attempt to reach all members the week of January 28th, in advance of the January 31st appeal deadline, with the results of the SBIA-wide property assessment review. If an appeal is not recommended for your address, and you disagree, you can still file your own appeal by going to bcassessment.ca
Both commercial property owners and commercial property tenants have a right to appeal their assessment.
Per the board’s decision, the SBIA is absorbing the cost of $100 per property which includes the benefit of a SBIA-wide review, the agent’s opinion, a final report on Strathcona commercial properties, and the filing of the recommended appeals to the Property Assessment Review Panel. Normally, the cost to initiate a review for an individual property would be higher. However, the SBIA is in a unique position to leverage the scale of our membership for a lower rate, benefiting every business, organization and property across our community.
As members, you will hear from the SBIA regarding this issue and opportunity including:
- An email before January 31st to members containing the results of our commercial tax agent’s final report
- Members with merit or grounds for an appeal will hear more immediately from the SBIA in the coming weeks regarding next steps
- An email and direct mail in Spring, 2019, to all members summarizing our findings and hopefully our success through this collective appeal process
If you’ve never received an email from us before you may not be on our list. To sign up from the SBIA newsletter, please visit our homepage at www.strathconabia.com or email us at email@example.com.
If you have any questions or concerns about this process, don’t hesitate to reach out.Read More
Creating community-serving retail and micro-enterprises in Chinese society buildings
Increased development in the Downtown Eastside (DTES) neighbourhood creates pressure on existing retail and small businesses. Rising land and rent prices – and the general scarcity of affordable commercial spaces – threaten their sustainability while new commercial functions cater mostly to a far more affluent demographic and are detached from the community’s cultural heritage. This loss of cultural identity is particularly apparent in Chinatown and Strathcona. At the same time, there are many street-facing underutilized buildings in these areas that could provide far greater benefit to the community.
Joji Kumagai of the Strathcona BIA, Wilco van Bemmel of Walas Concepts and June Chow of the Youth Collaborative for Chinatown, have recently taken the initiative for a project to create community-serving retail in underutilized Chinese society buildings. Our project will create opportunities for affordable retail and micro-enterprises that serve the community, strengthen the local culture with functions that fit the community fabric and cultural identity, provide inclusive employment opportunities and improve the public realm by activating storefronts and streets.
The City of Vancouver has awarded a DTES capital grant for phase 1 of our project. In this first phase, we search for potential locations, assess retail and service gaps, build partnerships with Chinese societiesRead More
The Strathcona BIA Renewal process has concluded. On March 8, 2017 City Council approved the renewal term of seven years through 2024 and the funding cap.
During the various consultation sessions members identified many key priorities such as beautification initiatives and public perception of the area, as well as wanting to see continued investment in safety, property maintenance and cleaning programs.
Now that the process has wrapped up we can look ahead and begin evaluating and implementing additional programs such as:
- Beautification projects that could include public art pieces like installations, sculptures, murals, upgraded lighting etc.
- Pilot program to address and support members with debris on private property including hazardous material.
- Sustainable transportation advocacy plan that incorporates parking, movement of goods and people and curbside uses.
- Implementation of a Community Policing Centre on East Hastings.
- Strengthen our advocacy work at various government levels.
Thank you to all our members for your ongoing support, especially those who take the time to submit feedback and attend working sessions. Your feedback is what shapes the programming.
We look forward to working with, and on your behalf to build a thriving mixed-use, inclusive, and resilient local economy.
SBIA Open Letter to Vancouver Coastal Health and City Council – Supervised Injection Sites Consultation Process
The SBIA has penned an open letter to Vancouver Coastal Health and City Council regarding recent public consultations spearheaded by Vancouver Coastal Health with respect to the two new supervised injection sites in our community. A copy of the letter is below or click HERE to view our op-ed published in the Vancouver Sun.
Proposed locations for the sites are:
- The new DTES Mental Health and Substance Use Drop-In-Centre at 528 Powell
- The Heatley Integrated Health Centre at 330 Heatley
An open letter to Vancouver City Council and Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH)
On September 21st, Vancouver Coastal Health’s Chief Medical Health Officer announced the location of two new proposed supervised injection sites for the Downtown Eastside (DTES), both of which are slated to open in early 2017 in Strathcona. As the representative body of 450 businesses, the Strathcona Business Improvement Association (SBIA) welcomes the opportunity for meaningful consultation on this important matter, because what our community comprising 9,000 residents and 7,000 employees has been afforded to-date borders on shameful.
With three open houses scheduled in the middle of the work day, during the middle of the week, we gather that “official” consultation on this matter is now considered complete. This raises concern for us, not to mention the broader question as to whether this is the type of process Vancouverites can expect from Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) when proposing supervised injection sites in other neighbourhoods.
In a hurry to prepare applications in response to a grave increase in overdose deaths throughout the city, VCH raced through the required process. Only a handful of the business owners and residents we work with were aware of the VCH-led open houses or had an opportunity to attend the sessions and provide input. The session I attended had less than twelve participants present.
The SBIA supports supervised injection sites and recognizes the need for these facilities, but they represent just one pillar of an overarching strategy. What is not clear at this juncture is what additional resources will be provided to support these new sites and ensure the safety of those who will use and work in them, as well as Strathcona residents, customers, and business owners who live, work and play in the community where these sites will soon operate.
As the city?s oldest neighbourhood, Strathcona has deep roots in the business community of modern Vancouver, serving as a gateway to the city for those arriving by road, sea and rail since the mid 1800?s. A “starter neighbourhood” historically, Strathcona remains a vibrant mix of industrial businesses and single family homes despite a noticeable lack of traditional amenities such as grocery stores, parks, neighbourhood pharmacies and walk-in health clinics, express transit service, sports fields, public pools or ice rinks, a community police centre, or even a post office.
Members of the SBIA are proud to be part of the DTES. However, ongoing public health issues like overdose related deaths in the area have prompted the need for renewed and meaningful dialogue with Vancouver?s policy makers on our urgent resourcing needs. Rubber stamping policies that address one issue, albeit a critical one, will not solve the broader problems communities will encounter, and could easily create new ones.
Strathcona business owners already cite safety as a primary concern due to an increase in homelessness, open substance use, and often, misinformation about the issues at hand. Currently, the Vancouver Police Department?s DTES BEAT Patrol ends at Gore Street, the border of Strathcona, but there were no indications at the VCH open houses that additional resources will be directed to the help the VPD extend their patrol into Strathcona, which experiences the same issues that are prevalent a few blocks away.
Supervised injection sites cannot exist in a silo, removed from the broader community fabric, especially amongst the mix of businesses and homes bordering the two new sites. In order to truly move the dial on issues that affect all Vancouver neighbourhoods, we need to work together – government, business, residents and advocates – to develop holistic approaches that address the health challenges we currently face. This begins with up-front, open and collaborative stakeholder engagement to ensure the community understands the importance and impact of supervised injection sites, and continues with a multipronged approach to both harm reduction and safety.
The Strathcona Business Improvement Association welcomes the opportunity to host a working session with members of Vancouver City Council, Vancouver Coastal Health and any business owner, resident, or stakeholder that wishes to build a better city.
We hope you will be in touch.
Strathcona Business Improvement Association