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...
Rachel Hunt - BIA Chair
Pharmasave - Manager
13 years in business in Huntsville -- 12 years on the Downtown Huntsville BIA Board
Rachel was nominated as Chair of the BIA Board in 2017, and her enthusiasm for keeping Downtown Huntsville thriving and beautiful is contagious. Rachel loves working in Downtown Huntsville and being part of this board. Rachel loves volunteering and is proud of the work the BIA does for our community. She loves how our community cares about the arts and is so encouraging and supportive of artists. The events showcase our Downtown and makes it feel like a festival all the time. Rachel loves working together with all the other Businesses on Main Street, it keeps us unique and committed to helping each other grow and serve the community. Rachel lives in town with her husband, James Hunt, and two of their children, while their oldest, Becca also lives in town and works Downtown as well.
Whimsical Bakery - Owner
10 years in business -- 2 years 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.
Joan Wager - BIA Chair Events & Promotions
Hutcheson, Reynolds & Caswell
35+ years in the insurance business; 11 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.
Reflections of Muskoka & Intimate Reflections - Owner
34 years in business in Huntsville -- 18 years 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.
Steve Campbell - BIA Treasurer
The Great Vine - Owner
Wooden Penny - Owner
Royal Bank of Canada - Business Account Manager
Michelle Gardiner has lived and worked in Huntsville since the family moved up from the city in 2010. She proudly works with RBC as a business account manager, her focus is on helping business prosper and grow within the Muskoka community.
Algonquin Outfitters - Manager
Little Place by the Light - Owner
Huntsville/Lake of Bays Chamber of Commerce - Executive Director
Town of Huntsville - Councillor
Scott Ovell - Town Liaison to BIA Board
Town of Huntsville - Employee
Downtown Huntsville BIA - Staff
Manager of Downtown Huntsville BIA
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.