Penticton may soon have just a single organization overseeing improvements and marketing for the city’s downtown.
The city is beginning a petition process that well see the Front Street Business Association and the Downtown Penticton Association merge to handle an enlarged business improvement area covering both sections.
The DPA and the FSBA oversee two business improvement areas. The DPA covers the larger area, stretching from Eckhardt to Lakeshore in a swath two blocks either side of Main Street. The Front Street BIA follows Front from Main to Ellis and a short distance along Marina Way and Vancouver Hill.
On Aug. 24, the FSBA officially asked the city to amalgamate their improvement area with that of the DPA. That came after the group met with the city.
“We did host an information session for the group, and a lot of the information that was covered was what is a BIA, how is it funded, the boundaries,” said city clerk Karen Burley.
“The Front Street BIA has gone through an extensive process to communicate our choices for the future with our members and to ask their desires for the vision for our organization” said Tyrion Miskell, chair of the FSBA. “Our mail-in ballot process showed that the majority of the members would like to amalgamate with the businesses downtown.”
According to a letter the FSBA sent to the City of Penticton requesting the amalgamation, 25 of the 49 ballots they sent out were returned, with 13 of those in favour of amalgamating the FSBA with the DPA. Nine were in favour of renewing the Front Street Business Improvement Area for another five years, and the remaining three were in favour of dissolving the Front Street BIA altogether.
In light of the FSBA’s direct request to amalgamate, Coun. Judy Sentes, council’s liaison to the group, voted against the city’s intention to initiate a petition process, rather than just follow through on the request.
A notice will be run in the newspaper as well as mailed to each property owner in the Front Street area, according to Burley.
“They are given 30 days to reply, and if they don’t provide us with a petition, then it would go forward, deemed yes. Then the bylaw would come back to council for adoption.” she said, explaining that if owners don’t respond, the process of amalgamation would continue.
“I will be voting against the process, but I want to be perfectly clear, it is not the outcome that I am objecting to. As the liaison to the Front Street association, they felt that they had done due diligence and were asking that the city just do this,” said Sentes. “I am cognizant that the city has chosen to go through the process and not circumvent it in a shorter version. To show support for what their original request was, I will vote against this.”
Sentes was the lone negative vote, with the rest of council voting to proceed with the petition and amalgamation process.