BIA BOARD OF MANAGEMENT

The Downtown Huntsville BIA’s Board of Management is composed of volunteer directors who are chosen by the BIA’s membership and appointed by Town Council. The Board includes business and property owners from the mandated area, as well as a member of the Huntsville Town Council. The Board is supported by a General Manager and a part-time Membership Assistant who staff the BIA office. The mandate of the Downtown Huntsville BIA is to serve its members who want a vibrant, accessible and safe commercial, shopping and entertainment climate in downtown Huntsville, with a wide variety of offerings. It supports the members and their customers by improving the area, and helping to create a reason to come downtown. 

GET TO KNOW YOUR DOWNTOWN HUNTSVILLE BIA BOARD...


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Rachel Hunt - BIA Chair

pharmasave (manager)

12 yrs in business in huntsville -- 11 yrs on the downtown huntsville bia board 

Rachel was nominated as president of the BIA Board in 2017, and her enthusiasm for keeping downtown Huntsville thriving and beautiful is contagious.  She is concerned about the empty Empire lot and the vacant storefronts on Main St. and will work hard to make change. Rachel loves to serve other through volunteering and spending time with her 'crazy and loving' blended family.

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Ashley Hodge - BIA Treasurer

td bank (main st branch)

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Kathy Sheridan - BIA Member at Large

reflections of muskoka & intimate reflections (owner)

33 yrs in business in huntsville -- 17 yrs on the downtown huntsville bia board 

Kathy has lived in Huntsville for 54 years and along with her partner Marc (Spectacles), Kathy owns 3 businesses in Downtown Huntsville.  She joined the BIA Board to keep up with events happening downtown, with the goal of helping to keep downtown vibrant and an inviting place to shop.  Kathy loves meeting new people and her customer love to come say 'HI' to her dogs in the store.

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Joan Wager - BIA Chair Events & Promotions

hutcheson, Reynolds & caswell

35+ yrs in the insurance business;  10 years on the Downtown Huntsville BIA Board

Joan was born and raised in Huntsville, but left to live in Toronto and Nova Scotia for 20 years.  In 2005 she returned to her hometown, where she still had family and many friends.  Joan joined the BIA with the goal of beautifying and promoting a positive development for our downtown.  She loves being part of the downtown community and planning events that benefit the whole town.

Ken Cole - BIA Board

the great vine (owner)

 

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Christine Kropp - BIA Board

Whimsical Bakery (Owner)

9 years in business -- 1 year on the Downtown Huntsville BIA Board

Christine and her family (husband John, stepson Ben and fur-baby Tucker) are fairly new to Huntsville.  She joined the BIA Board to become involved in the community, meet new people and to support the organization that supports small business.  Like many business owners downtown Christine is concerned about store vacancies and parking (for employees and customers).  She loves the community spirit of Main St, the events, festivities and friendly neighbourhood. 

Steve Campbell - BIA Board

sands formed hot glass inc (Owner)

 

 

Kelly Haywood - BIA Board

huntsville/lake of bays chamber of commerce (executive director)

 

Vanessa Jones - BIA Board

up north games (Owner)

3 years in business -- 1 year on the Downtown Huntsville BIA Board

Born and raised in Huntsville, Vanessa left after High School.  While living in Las Vegas with her husband Ryan and 2 small children (Harry and Ollie), Vanessa moved back to raise her family and opened a store in Downtown Huntsville.  Vanessa and Ryan opened Up North Games, to not only be a family business, but to also be a safe and clean place for kids to go and hang out. They pride themselves on being positive role models for local youth and support local events whenever they can.

Brent Ellerson - BIA Board

totem juice company & brand camp design (Owner)

3 years in business -- 2 yearS on the Downtown Huntsville BIA Board

With a passion for Health & Wellness, design, branding and Muskoka, Brent moved with his family to Huntsville 6 years ago to pursue his passions.   Collaborating with other like minded businesses to inspire and support growth are important to Brent.  He joined the BIA Board to share ideas and contribute to the growth of our amazing town.

Scott Ovell - Town Liaison to BIA Board

town of huntsville

 

Bob Stone - BIA Board

town of huntsville councillor

3 years on council -- 3 yearS on the Downtown Huntsville BIA Board

26 years ago, when looking to relocate, Bob was walking along the downtown Huntsville bridge when an old lady said "good morning" as she passed.  That simple act of kindness made Bob decide "this is a place I'd like to raise my family".  Bob and his wife Tracey moved to Huntsville to raise their sons Connor and Bryan.  As the former owner of Christmas Tyme for 20 years, it was logical for Bob to represent Town Council on the BIA Board.  His biggest concerns are parking and building vacancies downtown and says simply "The state of a Downtown is directly representative of the whole community".

Helena Renwick

executive director of downtown huntsville bia (staff)

 

Samantha Caplan

Downtown huntsville BIA STAFF (administrative assistant)

 

Kate Austin

downtown huntsville BIA staff (administrative assistant - maternity leave)

 


History of the BIA

What is a BIA? You may have heard of the Downtown Huntsville BIA. But, what is that? Well the BIA portion of the Downtown Huntsville BIA stands for Business Improvement Area, but that still won’t tell you much. So, let’s travel back in time about 40 years old? 

The situation was grim for business on a west Toronto main street. Business was on a decline. Stores were closing. Vacancy levels were rising quickly. Downtown streets were becoming run down. The situation was dire and the business people in the community started to fight back. It took a number of years, but in 1970 a group of business people achieved success and created an association backed with municipal and provincial legislation to compel all businesses in their downtown community to contribute funds to the betterment of their dwindling downtown. Spending their own money, the businesses began street improvements and promoting the area. It paid off. A popular shopping destination was born and remains strong today. Perhaps you’ve heard of Bloor West Village, which is celebrating their 40th anniversary as a BIA this year. 

Bloor West Village was the first BIA. The concept caught on and now there are 64 BIAs in Toronto, more than 230 across Ontario (including our own Downtown Huntsville BIA), and 300 across Canada. BIAs can be found internationally in the US, Great Britain, Australia, and elsewhere. These BIAs vary greatly in the size of their membership, business make up, geographical size, etc. They all, however, share a desire to improve their business districts and enhance their community at large. 

The Downtown Huntsville BIA, like other Ontario BIAs, is municipally legislated. Our main source of funding is an additional property tax levy paid by commercial property owners (falling within our designated geographic area). Because the BIA levy money is used directly towards improvements in the business community that pays for it, you might even call it a self-help program designed to stimulate business growth. In the Downtown Huntsville BIA our funds are directed towards streetscape improvements, beautification efforts (such as Christmas lighting, flower planting), downtown marketing and promotions, community events, and our Group of Seven Outdoor Gallery project, and more. 

Even though times have changed since 1970, the need for BIAs is just a strong as it was when Bloor West Village was formed. Bloor West Village was facing a drop in customers when the subway system replaced the street trolleys. Their situation was compounded with a proliferation of shopping malls blossoming on the outskirts of the city, where customers were drawn to climate controlled shopping and free parking. This is not so different from today’s challenges of big box shopping developments and the strong movement away from shopping locally to internet shopping. 

But as long as a strong downtown remains the heart of the community and supported by the efforts of people who live, work, and play there, the Downtown Huntsville BIA will continue to work hard to support our close to 200 property owner, business and service provider members. 

Supporting documentation for this article was taken from printed material of the Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas.