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Establishing a Business Improvement Area

The Municipal Government Act's business revitalization regulation sets out procedures for establishing and operating a business improvement area (BIA). The flow chart and the following sections summarize various steps necessary to create a BIA.

Business owner's role

According to the legislation, it is the responsibility of local businesses to initiate a BIA. The BIA may consist of a street, several streets or a district.

After defining the boundaries of a BIA, a request for a BIA must be sent to the City Clerks Office. To be established, it must be signed by at least 25 per cent of the business owners listed on the current business assessment roll within the zone.

This request should be submitted to the City Clerk's Office by the end of March to allow time for The City of Calgary to process the application to establish the BIA and endorse it through bylaw by January of the following year.

The City's role

After a request to establish a BIA is received by the City Clerk, notices of the proposal will be mailed to all business owners on the business assessment roll within the proposed BIA area.

If city council receives a petition against the BIA, signed by persons representing more than 50 per cent of the notified business owners within a 60 day period, the BIA cannot be implemented. If a negative petition is not received, then council may proceed with establishing the BIA.

The BIA is established by a ​​​​bylaw. The bylaw defines the physical boundary of the BIA, the BIA's name, purpose of the BIA, and confirms the board of directors' membership.

Operation of a BIA

The board of directors is responsible for the administration of the BIA association. The board must include up to 10 business owners who are nominated by the business members of the BIA. The board develops the BIAs' annual program and submits the program's budget estimates to city council.

City council annually confirms the BIA board of directors membership.

Financing of a BIA

The BIA receives its revenue from local business owners in the zone. This revenue is collected by means of a special BIA levy added to each business owner's annual business tax bill.

The levy amount is based on the board's annually approved program budget, which is submitted to city council. Council passes a BIA tax rate bylaw outlining the tax rate required to raise the BIAs' annual revenue. The levy is then collected by the municipality and forwarded to the BIA board of directors for program funding.

What to do if you are interested

A vibrant business district requires active participation from its members. The BIA is a grass-roots volunteer organization and you are encouraged to discuss the benefits and costs with other prospective business members in your area.

Contact other BIA members to learn more about their operations. The City will provide assistance and advice to any individual or business group who may be interested in establishing a BIA for a specific district.

Additional information

To learn more about the BIA program and how it can help your business area, please contact 311.

Note: This information has no legal status and cannot be used as an official interpretation of the regulations currently in effect. For detailed information, consult the Business Improvement Area Regulation, AR 93/2016