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BIA responsibilities and working with The City

​​​​​​Back to BIA toolkit​​​​​​​​ 

BIAs and their boards are regulated by the Municipal Government Act and Business Improvement Area Regulation.

Our BIA Business Strategist is the main point of contact that works with BIAs. The BIA strategist can help with:

  • establishing or disestablishing a BIA
  • changing the name of a BIA
  • changing a BIA boundary
  • receiving BIA budget submissions for Council review/approval
  • receiving BIA financial statements
  • receiving BIA board nominees for appointment by Council
  • strategic planning
  • providing governance information
  • answering general BIA related requests

City programs and projects​


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The City handles programs that may impact or compliment the work of BIAs (e.g. food trucks, business tax consolidation, snow route parking bans). Existing BIA agreements focus on creating safe and clean environments and the use and care of public spaces.

BIA responsibilities​


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BIAs often work with community associations (CA), Social Recreation Groups (SRG), Resident Associations (RA) and other stakeholders. They are also a member in The City’s urban planning and development process and typically consulted on:

  • development applications,
  • transportation and parking matters,
  • issues pertaining to public spaces, and
  • creating certain policies and plans.

A BIA may:

  • Provide advice, background information, context, and bring forward BIA issues and concerns to The City;
  • Advocate for planning activities;
  • Attract desirable development; and
  • Make local improvements.

Development applications and BIAs

The City regularly shares development applications for BIA input. These applications include:

  • development permits,
  • land use re-designation (also known as rezoning), and
  • area redevelopment plan (ARP) amendments.

The BIA’s role is to advise and comment on how a proposed development fits into the area, or possible changes to make it more compatible or beneficial.

At times, the role may include speaking to a public hearing of Council on a land use change, or appealing (or supporting) a development at the Subdivision and Development Appeal Board.

Community Associations can also comment on developments, including in the BIA area, and file appeals. When the BIA and the CA work together on communication of on development issues, they can share perspectives and be aligned where possible.

BIA responses development applications

How BIAs respond to an application varies depending on the issue, the timeframe, and how the BIA operates. Typically, BIA staff respond, in collaboration with a board member or committee. Sometimes the whole board will participate, depending on the issue.

With planning and development​ issues, the BIA should have a vision and strategic plan for how they wish to see the area develop. Identifying a vision and plan will help each BIA provide consistent responses to applications, taking advantage of opportunities and leveraging new development to benefit the business improvement area.

BIA associations

There are regional and global networks that serve as important connectors for BIA-related work, resources and educational opportunities.

Alberta BIA Association

There is a new provincial organization called ABBIA. The co-founders are Annie MacInnis from the Calgary Kensington BRZ and Ellie Sasseville from the Edmonton Kingsway BRZ. There are currently 33 BIAs who have joined the organization across Alberta.

Regional BIA Associations

There are regional associations that offer additional resources as well as networking and educational opportunities for BIAs. In close proximity to Alberta is the Business Improvement Areas of British Columbia (BIABC). BIABC was formed in 1991 to assist and promote the BIA movement in British Columbia. Today, they represent more than 60 business districts and have members from all across Western Canada.

Global BIA Associations

The Washington, D.C.-based International Downtown Association (IDA) is a champion for vital and liveable urban centres. IDA provides tools, intelligence and strategies for creating healthy and dynamic centres that anchor the well-being of towns, cities and regions of the world. IDA has an extensive global network of members that spans from British Columbia to South Africa.


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