The Business Improvement Area outlined in black ink is the area that will be affected by the levy increase that Downtown Salmon Arm requested from the city. (City of Salmon Arm image)

The Business Improvement Area outlined in black ink is the area that will be affected by the levy increase that Downtown Salmon Arm requested from the city. (City of Salmon Arm image)

Council balks but approves deal for Downtown Salmon Arm

Small minority of downtown businesses objects to seven-year bylaw with levy increases

The future of Downtown Salmon Arm looked uncertain at times during the last meeting of Salmon Arm council but, in the end, its funding was approved for seven more years.

An unusually long discussion at council’s Nov. 25 meeting centered on a new seven-year agreement and expanded boundary proposed for the downtown Business Improvement Area (BIA), which Downtown Salmon Arm (DSA) administers.

The existing BIA bylaw, which has a 10-year term, is set to expire on Dec. 31. In Salmon Arm, downtown business promotion activities are financed through a special tax levy on all Class 6 (business and other) properties within the BIA boundary. The city collects this tax revenue on behalf of the DSA. In exchange, the DSA board produces an annual budget for council to review.

The levy proposed was for a 2.73 increase in 2020 followed by a four per cent increase each year for the final six years of the bylaw. Those percentages are per $1,000 of assessed value.

Read more: Farmer’s market planned for downtown Salmon Arm

Read more: Business Spotlight – Looking for artists to beautify the downtown

The expanded boundary was to add just one property, the former Honda building owned by Bill Laird.

In August, DSA representatives had come to council to propose the new seven-year bylaw. Regarding the boundary change, Laird told council he believes in what the DSA does and wanted to contribute to the levy.

Council authorized staff to carry out what’s called a Council Initiative process, which is somewhat similar to the better known Alternative Approval Process. To stop the bylaw from being adopted, 50 per cent of the parcels in the specified area downtown would have to sign a petition objecting.

By the Nov. 15 deadline, just 13 properties, most from the south side of the highway, representing only 7.5 per cent of parcels, had objected. That meant council could adopt the bylaw. Three additional options were provided by city staff at the Nov. 25 meeting, two of which involved rejecting the proposal and starting over with “rigorous engagement” with the businesses involved, and one was to let the BIA bylaw lapse.

Councillors raised a number of concerns about passing the bylaw.

Read more: In photos – Celebrating everything apple

Coun. Debbie Cannon spoke most strongly in opposition, saying the 26 per cent increase over seven years is too much when businesses already pay a high tax rate. She said the majority of businesses on the south side of the highway don’t support it, and she also brought up a perceived lack of communication between the DSA and downtown businesses. She said she didn’t see the proposed bylaw announced on the DSA website and “that set off alarm bells a little bit.” However, Cannon added she wasn’t in favour of dissolving the DSA.

It was unclear to city staff what would happen to Downtown Salmon Arm if council rejected the bylaw, but DSA manager Lindsay Wong said later that the organization’s contract is with the city and if that contract was not renewed, she believes there would have been no DSA come Jan. 1.

She also said there were two open houses at the Innovation Centre about the bylaw, it was on the agenda for DSA’s AGM, it went out with the city information in October and it was in the newsletter that was both emailed and handed out.

“We confidently feel we had the information out there,” Wong said.

Read more: In photos – Trick-or-treaters descent on Downtown Salmon Arm Treat Trail

Read more: 2018 – New Downtown Salmon Arm board installed

Regarding the levy increases, she said capital expenses are a large part such as Christmas decorations and banners, plus installation of the banners. She said livability is a top focus. That includes safety for pedestrians, walkability, safe access downtown, signage, beautification, living with the environment. Promotions and projects are also funded.

Coun. Tim Lavery also voted against the bylaw, saying it’s not a reflection of the DSA’s worth but about fairness regarding those businesses which didn’t want to be included in the specified area.

Councillors suggested deferring the vote or altering the length and tax levy amounts in the bylaw but staff informed them that would mean starting over. Coun. Kevin Flynn, the city’s rep on the DSA board, said he thinks council may have made mistakes regarding the agreement and perhaps the DSA could have done a better job of informing people.

The final vote was five to two, with Cannon and Lavery voting against.

Mayor Alan Harrison said it was clear in August what the DSA was proposing and the majority of businesses have demonstrated their position by not objecting.

Coun. Louise Wallace Richmond characterized online shopping as the elephant in the room. She said it can’t be ignored because Amazon is Salmon Arm’s largest retailer.


@SalmonArm
marthawickett@saobserver.net

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Regional District of North Okanagan is asking Vernon-based Tolko Industries to halt a planned cut block 500 metres above the Duteau Creek water intake, which provides 60 per cent of the Greater Vernon water supply April 22, 2021. (File photo)
Tolko urged to halt planned logging above Greater Vernon water supply

RDNO says planned cutblock above Duteau Creek could threaten 60 per cent of Vernon area water supply

An Ontario-based company has signed a contract with the CSRD to managethe Sicamous and District Rec Centre. (File Photo)
Ontario-based company gets management contract for Sicamous rec centre

CSRD approves contract with Nustadia Recreation

Thirteen demonstrators laid signs and demanded justice for lost sisters April 22, 2021, as Curits Wayne Sagmoen’s cop assault charge went before the court. (Jennifer Smith - Vernon Morning Star)
Sagmoen to stand trial in Vernon for cop assault

Trial is estimated to last five days, defence lawyer says

Salmon Arm Silverbacks forward Simon Tassy (11) tries to set a screen in front of West Kelowna goalie Johnny Derrick with Warriors defenceman Skyler Cameron trying to prevent it. Tassy scored twice in the Silverbacks’ 5-2 B.C. Hockey League pod play win Wednesday, April 21, at Vernon’s Kal Tire Place. (Tami Quan Photography)
Salmon Arm Silverbacks slip past West Kelowna

Simon Tassy scores twice as Gorillas dump Warriors 5-2 in B.C. Hockey League pod play in Vernon

Weekly COVID-19 data for April 11 to 17, 2021 on new cases reported in North Okanagan-Shuswap health areas show Vernon, Armstrong and Revelstoke going down, Salmon Arm holding steady and Enderby with small increase. (British Columbia Centre for Disease Control image)
Just one North Okanagan-Shuswap health area sees rise in new COVID-19 cases

Latest weekly data available shows Enderby with small increase, Salmon Arm holding steady

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and United States President Joe Biden smile as they say farewell following a virtual joint statement in Ottawa, Tuesday, February 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau pledges to cut emissions by 40% to 45% by 2030, short of U.S. goal

Trudeau announced target during a virtual climate summit convened by U.S. President Joe Biden

Wife and husband duo Alexis Esseltine and Timothy Scoon n took over Penticton’s Tin Whistle Brewing in October, 2020 and are making their mark on the iconic brew-spot by announcing a new look and an environmental focus. (Contributed)
South Okanagan’s original brewery goes eco-friendly under new ownership

Tin Whistle Brewing is now one of the first certified carbon neutral breweries in B.C.

Journal de Montreal is seen in Montreal, on Thursday, April 22, 2021. The daily newspaper uses a file picture of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau dressed in traditional Indian clothing during his trip to India to illustrate a story on the Indian variant of the coronavirus. Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press
Montreal newspaper blasted for front-page photo of Trudeau in India

Trudeau is wearing traditional Indian clothes and holding his hands together in prayer beside a caption that reads, ‘The Indian variant has arrived’

Vernon North Okanagan RCMP arrested a suspected impaired driver who took an unauthorized short cut to a Coldstream roadway. (File photo)
Impaired driver on slippery slope with Vernon RCMP

Person caught leaving locked Coldstream parking lot by taking unauthorized shortcut to roadway

A police officer stands by a kayak that overturned on Mission Creek in Kelowna on Thursday, April 22. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
Kayakers flip in Kelowna’s Mission Creek, lose two boats

Two overturned kayaks were spotted floating down the waterway on Thursday, kayaker says everybody made it out safely

Are you considering any ambitious home renovation projects? The Okanagan Regional Library can help. (Black Press file photo)
COLUMN: Redecorate your home with help from the library

Plenty of resources in place for home decoration projects

Peyton Slind enjoys the fruits of his labour. Photo submitted
B.C. youngster builds hammock out of 900 plastic bags

“I’m going to enjoy it until it splits in half.”

(Photo: pixabay.com)
Near miss between small plane and drone above downtown Kelowna

The drone came within 200 feet of colliding with the small aircraft

Most Read