By Jenn Watt
In the year to come the Haliburton Village Business Improvement Area or BIA will continue putting its money into the initiatives designed to liven the downtown: flower baskets sculptures winter decorations Colourfest the Santa Claus Parade and Frost Fest among others.
At its annual general meeting on Feb. 6 the membership voted to pass the nearly $58000 budget which includes modest increases over last year’s $55500 budget.
The BIA funds its activities through a levy applied to the businesses in the downtown which this year was raised by about two per cent. The organization has also chosen to use its reserve funds again this year with about $7800 helping to pay for 2020 initiatives.
Barbara Swannell treasurer for Dysart et al reminded the BIA on Thursday that reserves have been decreasing in recent years and will be gone if they continue to be drawn upon.
“At the end of 2018 the BIA had a reserve of just under $26000 so the final results for 2019 indicate that there’s going to be a draw of roughly almost $7000 on that [reserve] so that will bring it down to roughly about $19000 and then the 2020 budget again is proposing a draw on that reserve so proposed 2020 you’re looking at a closing reserve balance of about $10000” she said.
Chair Luke Schell asked Swannell if she had a recommendation on use of reserves. “It looks like you’re slowly drawing on the reserve and you’ve got some key initiatives here from what I can see so just be aware at some point if you continue with the same trend of drawing anywhere between $7000 to $8000 by the end of 2021 you will not have any more reserves” she said adding it was healthy to keep some reserves on-hand in case something comes up.
The BIA has budgeted to spend about $7000 on administration in 2020; $2000 on Colourfest; $2000 on conferences and education; $5500 on town decorations; $3250 on downtown flags; $9000 on flowers including maintaining them; $4500 on sculptures; $15000 on promotions including various local shopping initiatives; $5000 on the Santa Claus Parade and $2000 for sidewalk cleanup.
Dysart et al Mayor Andrea Roberts attended the AGM and gave members a preview of work being done to improve the downtown starting with the visitors’ centre that will be built at the entrance to Head Lake Park offering tourism information and public washrooms.
“Public washrooms are absolutely a priority” she said saying they would benefit people attending events in the park as well as downtown shoppers.
She also highlighted the master plan for Head Lake Park which will be reviewed by stakeholders who participated in the initial consultation.
“That’s sort of like having that big dream and that goal that you go to. It might take 10 years it might take 20 years. There’s not really a timeline” she said.
The plan will address operations of the park including drainage walkways and accessibility.
Roberts also updated the BIA on Dysart’s budget which this year includes funds to finish the town dock replacement extension of the sidewalk from York Street to the town docks and road repairs on Maple and Highland streets which she called “pothole city.”
She said the municipality is also working with the snowmobile club to find a solution to where sledders can ride following the closure of a trail that runs through Glebe Park due to insurance issues.
She said roads staff are working hard to keep snowbanks manageable in the downtown currently exceeding set standards. She said she knew conditions weren’t perfect and added that she would like to see accessible spaces in front of the post office and Bank of Montreal prioritized for snow clearing.
Kathy Stouffer owner of Master’s Bookstore on Highland Street was chosen as this year’s BIA VIP and given a plaque at Thursday’s meeting. The bookstore is celebrating 40 years in business and chair Luke Schell praised Stouffer for persevering through a difficult time in the publishing industry.
“We just appreciate people like you and what you have done for this community. You have a destination store in the middle of our town that people come here to go to” he said calling Master’s Bookstore an “incredible bookstore run by an incredible lady.”
Stouffer thanked the BIA for the honour and thanked her customers who help generate business by sharing their reviews of the store.