General Advocacy Issues
BIABC Key Advocacy Priorities
During the BC General Election, BIABC issued its key priorities for consideration by local candidates. With the election over, these same priorities will be fundamental to BIABC's advocacy efforts going forward. BIABC was instrumental in pushing for a rent relief program that was directly accessable to bussinesses, rather than relying on landlords. The result was the recently announced Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS), which is awaiting passage of the legislation. BIABC will continue to advocate on issues of concern to BIAs and their members.
Commercial property tax relief and legislative change
- Continuation of the 50% decrease of the Provincial School Tax in 2021 is crucial to the economic recovery efforts in BC. We have heard from our members that the 50% reduction in the school tax provided significant relief for commercial propoerty owners and businesses in 2020, many of whom are still struggling with decreased revenues, mounting debts and deferred payments.
- Proposal for the creation of a commercial sub-class to moderate the property tax impact of the current assessment methodology of highest and best use by allowing municipalities, if they wish, to tax unbuilt density at a lower rate than existing built density, which would allow for more targeted relief.
Four Pillar approach to healthy communities
Pre-COVID, public safety was in decline as evidenced by increased street disorder and property crime, however, these issues became magnified on our commercial streets with the onset of COVID through the increased presence of homelessness, encampments, discarded needles, garbage and human waste. The delicate balance in community safety has shifted and needs to be addressed to support our businesses and citizens while also recognizing the complex needs of our city’s most vulnerable individuals.
- Implementation of ALL four pillars – prevention, harm reduction, enforcement and treatment –is needed for a successful drug strategy. We’ve seen positive impacts through various harm reduction initiatives, however, they alone do not support community safety for all and need to be combined with effective prevention programs, enhanced, on-demand treatment programs, access to a safe supply of drugs, as well as timely and appropriate enforcement of related offences.
- Investment in a long-term housing strategy, in cooperation with all three levels of government, complete with wrap-around, on-site services to address homelessness and in consultation with impacted communities.
- Implementation of Institutional Care and treatment for those who have demonstrated they are a harm to themselves and/or others.
Priortization of housing, transportation and childcare policies to support economy
- Investment in housing across the continuum to support all income levels, as well as in public transportation infrastructure improvements and sufficient affordable childcare programs to ensure people can live where they work and have access to the supports needed to care for their families.
Targeted COVID-19 response to support economy, jobs and mental wellness
- Implementation of targeted enforcement/penalties to ensure adherence to proper health and safety protocols rather than blanket sector restrictions as a more equitable and effective approach that will maintain important employment and not penalize compliant businesses.
- Development of a grant program to provide small business grants of up to $5,000 to offset costly re-opening expenses (PPE).
- Development of a safe return to work protocol to encourage private and public sectors to bring employees back into our downtowns.
- Continued investment to support tourism industry recovery and resiliency.