ANTIGONISH: Town council set aside its proposed Business Improvement District (BID).
Last week, following a presentation from special projects coordinator Steven Scannell, Antigonish Town Council agreed with a recommendation from staff and chose not to move forward with the BID.
Antigonish Mayor Laurie Boucher said staff put a lot of time into consulting with business and property owners on the matter, noting there was also a vote.
“The majority of the business owners and property owners did not agree with the entire BID as it is but they did like some parts of it,” said Boucher. “Staff’s recommendation back to council was to drop [the BID] but still look forward and see what we can do to fill that gap of marketing, event coordinator, and communications with the town.”
Boucher said they are not looking at the BID proposal as a failure. Instead, Boucher said the process was very beneficial for the town.
“We had a lot of information from our stakeholders in the business sector,” said the mayor. “We had the town, the chamber of commerce, the downtown business association. We also had the ESREN [Eastern Strait Regional Enterprise Network] all working together on this project. All of those major stakeholders are still committed to doing something to fill that gap. ”
When asked about that gap, Boucher said there are times when there are events going on but no one coordinating. She also said there isn’t a lot of marketing around the community, on top of what she called a problem of communication, and those issues overlap.
“That’s the gap that we see and that’s the gap that the business sector in the Town of Antigonish sees,” the mayor said. “That’s the part we’re trying to fill. We want to work with the business sector to make sure that something comes out of it.”
One of the complaints about the BID was the proposed marketing levy. Boucher said some felt the proposed levy was too much, while some thought it wasn’t high enough to fund such activities. Others, said Boucher, felt Antigonish County should be involved.
While the town let the county know about its plans, Boucher said the town felt it was best to start small and eventually ask the county to come in later as it grew.
“Obviously, the business sector didn’t see it that way but I think they’re a bit afraid of it too in the sense that it’s been done before in town and it wasn’t all that successful,” she said. “They were a little bit afraid of maybe it not being successful again. The majority of the people didn’t mind the levy. I think they’re just afraid of the outcome and they didn’t have confidence in it, more so than anything.”
Boucher said the BID proposal proves council wants to support local business when it comes to marketing and event coordination for the area.
“In that respect, the process was a success,” said Boucher. “It will be discussed definitely in our budget talks that will be coming up in the next three weeks.”