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Establishing a Business Improvement Area - Roles and responsibilities

The Municipal Government Act and Business Improvement Area Regulation provides the rules and guidelines for establishing and operating a Business Improvement Area (BIA). The following sections summarize the various steps necessary to create a BIA.

Business owner's role​


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

To establish a BIA, the business owners must define a proposed boundary for the BIA, and get at least 25 per cent of business owners on current business assessment roll within the proposed area to sign in support of the proposed BIA. Once this is in place, a request for a BIA must be sent to the City Clerk’s Office.

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.

Under the Regulation, businesses opposed to establishing the new BIA can submit a petition. 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, a BIA cannot be established for at least two years. If a negative petition is not received, then council may proceed with establishing the BIA.

Each BIA is established by its own bylaw. The bylaw defines the physical boundary of the BIA, the BIA's name, purpose of the BIA, and confirms the number of directors on the board, how long they can serve, and how roles on the board are filled. Under the MGA, all board members are appointed by Council.

Governance of a BIA​


The board of directors is responsible for the administration of the BIA. Board members must be nominated by the business members of the BIA. The board develops the BIAs' annual program and submits the BIA’s budget to city council for approval. The BIA tax is based on this budget plus or minus any shortfall or surplus from the prior year.

City council annually appoints all new members of each BIA’s board of directors.

Financing of a BIA


The BIA receives its revenue from local business owners in the area. This revenue is collected by a BIA levy (a tax bill) sent annually to each business owner.

The levy amount is based on the BIA 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.

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 03.2016.

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