Idea for potential BIA in New Hamburg receives pushback from some business owners

Not all businesses are on board as a group in New Hamburg is considering starting up a Business Improvement Area (BIA).

The New Hamburg Board of Trade sent over 200 letters to every business in town, pitching the idea of ​​a BIA and inviting business owners to learn more through an information session.

Although she isn’t entirely against the idea, Angie Hallman said now is not the time to have this conversation considering several businesses have closed in recent months.

“In a market where we have a business instability in our downtown community with all the kind of things happening globally, it’s an alarming time to present this to small businesses,” said Hallman, owner of ReNu Health and Wellness.

She added that forming a BIA would mean a mandatory tax levy, an added burden to business owners.

“It goes straight to Wilmot Township council,” said Hallman. “They determine the levy for the year of the operation of the BIA and us business owners get stuck with the bill.”

Currently, the New Hamburg Board of Trade is an optional group for businesses, funded by members only, and operates on a $30,000 budget.

“There are currently over 200 BIAs that have been implemented across Ontario and the feedback we got is that it’s something we should consider,” said Lyle Cressman, president of the New Hamburg Board of Trade. “We do the downtown flowers, the Christmas lights, the garbage cans, [and are] currently spearheading the new waterwheel build in town.”

A BIA would mean a boost in budget, allowing them to bring in a new hire that would help with business marketing and social media.

“[The decision] is not going to be made by the current board of trade members. It’s going to be something that the business community wants and we’ll see where that direction takes us,” said Cressman.

The information session will happen at the Puddicombe House Banquet Hall on Feb. 23 at 7:30 am.