What is a BIA?

At the heart of a vibrant neighbourhood exists a healthy, safe and sustainable Business Improvement Area. The symbiotic relationship between ‘commercial’ and ‘residential’ helps define the character of that neighbourhood, it’s brand, and how people and businesses live and thrive within.

What is a BIA?

A Business Improvement Area (BIA) is an association of commercial property owners and tenants within a defined area who work in partnership with the City to create thriving and safe business areas that attract shoppers, diners, tourists, and new businesses. By working collectively as a BIA, local businesses have the resource capacity (funds and people) to actively enhance the quality of life in their local neighbourhood and the City as a whole.

A Business Improvement Area (BIA) permits local businesses and property owners within a defined district to join together and, with the support of the municipality, organize, finance, improve and promote the area as a commercial district.

Benefits of a BIA

BIAs help form a strong and distinct image for a City’s neighbourhood as its destination to eat, shop, work, and play. This effectively markets the area as a local destination, competing against e-commerce giants and malls, and tourism destinations. 

BIAs can be catalysts for civic improvement and significant contributors to the City’s economy and the quality of life of our neighbourhoods. In order to help local commercial areas create thriving, competitive and safe business areas, the City offers a number of programs to BIAs.

BIAs improve their local economies through activities such as:

  • Street and sidewalk maintenance and capital improvements
  • Promotion of the BIA as a business, employment, tourist or shopping area (business directories, festivals, advertising)
  • Hosting neighbourhood festivals and events
  • Safety, security and crime prevention initiatives
  • Graffiti and poster removal services respecting building facades visible from the street
  • Strategic plans for business recruitment, market studies and capital improvements
  • Advocate on behalf of their membership as a unified voice

Starting a BIA

The decision to start a BIA can only be made by people who own or lease commercial and/or industrial property in the commercial area. The City of Ottawa has created a presentation on the steps to establish a BIA.

Starting a BIA-Ottawa