The City signs an agreement with the downtown association | News
The organization that developed and transformed the downtown Penticton Farmer’s Market into one of the most successful in Canada will be around for at least another five years.
A special two-hour emergency meeting held Thursday in Penticton’s council chambers resulted in the city signing a new five-year agreement with the Downtown Penticton Association’s Business Improvement Association.
The DPA represents approximately 700 properties throughout the downtown area. Formed in 1998, one of the main functions of the organization is to organize and operate the very popular downtown Farmer’s Market, as well as Canada Day celebrations and many other community events throughout of the year.
At a meeting held last week, the DPA called for annual increases of 3.5% over the next five years in the tax automatically paid by member companies, which pays for three staff members and numerous activities and events. business promotion.
The current five-year deal, which is due to expire at the end of April, charges downtown landlords $1.10 per $1,000 of assessed value up to a maximum of just under $2,900. per year.
The DPA was seeking to raise the cap on individual properties from $2,900 to $12,000 for 12 high-value sites such as banks and credit unions.
Staff recommended moving forward with the proposal after a 30-day period during which DPA members could block proposed changes with a petition signed by at least 50% of affected owners.
The Board voted against this recommendation and the Board. Campbell Watt when he introduced a new motion, passed unanimously, which effectively reversed the approval process by requiring the DPA to show it has the support of at least 50% of its members, an approach similar to that required by Travel Penticton last year when it sought to raise the local hotel tax from 2 to 3 per cent.
DPA members were not allowed to comment at last week’s meeting, which culminated in Thursday’s special meeting.
The bylaw passed Thursday not only approved a new five-year deal, but overturned the provision that would require the DPA to require 50% of its members to sign a petition showing their support.
After much debate, the majority of council insisted that the DPA had done a terrific job for over 20 years and that renewing another five-year contract was in the best interest of the city and the community. ‘organization.
Under the new agreement, the DPA will collect just over $303,000 in 2022 and just over $355,000 when the agreement ends in 2026.
Steve Brown, a long-time business and property owner in downtown Penticton and head of the DPA’s finance committee, told council how grateful the group was for council’s decision to renew a five-year contract with the DPA.
This agreement will ensure that the Farmers Market and so many other successful events held downtown will continue for years to come, Brown said.
“We are extremely happy with this decision,” he said. “You have our assurance that we will be working very hard over the next few weeks to revive the market and do what we can to ensure that we have a very successful summer. It is essential for the whole community and I think you will find that the DPA will work very, very hard on behalf of the community, which is essentially what we have always done and what we will continue to do.
The agreement also guarantees that negotiations in five years will begin months before expiration, instead of weeks.
Trevor Guerard, chairman of the DPA board, told the board that the tax increases requested over the next five years are needed after two very difficult years for all local businesses during a global pandemic.
Having a dozen large companies like banks whose annual levy is capped at $2,900 doesn’t make sense and the board believes it’s fair to impose a greater share of the costs on those 12 companies, a- he declared. Those dozen companies would pay 60% of the proposed tax increases, he said.
The proposed increases would net the DPA board an additional $60,000, the vast majority of which will go towards an advertising and marketing campaign designed to attract shoppers downtown, Brown said.
“We have to get people back downtown…so we had to spend a lot of money,” he said.
A property valued between $400,000 and $500,000 paid about $500 a year to CCA and that would increase by $60 in 2022, he said.
Earlier in the meeting, Brown warned that the DPA could fold without continued board support.
“You have to seriously consider this and decide if you want a DPA,” he said. “If not, then get up and tell us and let us know and we’ll pack up the tent and go if that’s what you want. If not, you have a serious decision to make.
Com. Katie Robinson quickly replied, “I think it’s fair to say that no one in this town wants the DPA gone. We clearly recognize the important and critical work you do for our city and we appreciate all the work that goes into it.
Robinson said she believes the DPA, not the council, should be responsible for setting its own budget and any proposed tax increases.
DPA’s longtime executive director Lynn Allin, who is retiring at the end of May, told the board that this new agreement will allow the organization to hire a full-time replacement as soon as possible. .
The emergency meeting was chaired by Acting Mayor Frank Regehr as Mayor John Vassalaki recused himself as he and his family owned businesses in the downtown area.
Com. James Miller was the only board member to vote against the revised settlement.