Future of events up in air

By Angelica Ingram

The following are brief reports of items discussed at the Feb. 1 annual general meeting of the Haliburton Business Improvement Area.

There was a lot of talk about last year’s Colourfest a fall festival the BIA organizes in October. BIA chairman Luke Schell said the executive had discussed reining the event in as there was only so much manpower and volunteers available to put on the day-long event.

BIA member Andy Glecoff said he felt attendance was down last year and questioned why the full $6000 budget for the event was not used.

First-time Colourfest co-ordinator Autumn Smith who was hired by the BIA to run the event spent approximately $4000.

The BIA has budgeted $6100 for the event in 2016 however there was lengthy discussion over whether or not events such as Colourfest brought shoppers to the area. Some members asked if events were worth the time and money they cost and if it fit into the BIA’s larger mandate. Schell said this would be looked at more in the future.

BIA marks successful year
Schell highlighted some of the events and successful initiatives the BIA undertook in 2015 which included Come to Town Tuesdays a spring sidewalk sale men’s shopping night and more. The organization also spent part of their budget on beautification including flowers and fall decorations which Schell said are well-received.

The chairman said looking ahead the BIA will be expanding the flowers by adding 12 more baskets to accommodate a growing downtown. Discussions were had on replacing the snowflakes on the main street however Schell said the BIA would need financial help from the municipality to do so as the snowflakes were pricey.

New promotions
Signature events such as the BIA’s Buy in and Win and Come to Town Tuesdays are continuing to gather steam said Schell.

Partnerships with such groups as the Haliburton County Farmers’ Market and the Haliburton Rotary Club which runs Music in the Park is proving fruitful. The BIA is hoping to grow Come to Town Tuesdays throughout the year with special discounts and promotions.

During his reeve’s address Murray Fearrey suggested the BIA invest more in loyalty programs giving people a reason to spend their money locally. The idea of bringing back BIA Bucks was discussed.
“Customer loyalty is huge” said Fearrey adding retail is not going to get any easier.

The executive talked about investing more into promotions and introducing new ideas.

Balanced books
The BIA continues to be in a healthy position financially with a surplus set aside for a “rainy day” said Schell.

This year marks the final year of the expansion phase-in reported BIA treasurer Nelly Ashworth.
In 2015 the organization spent just more than $42000 which was under their $47000 budget. For 2016 the BIA has budgeted $55300 to cover its expenses which the executive believes is generous. A large chunk of the budget is allotted to beautification at $17000 and promotions at $15400.

Executive changes
Executive members bid adieu to Walkers Home Hardware owner Jerry Walker who is stepping down to focus on his duties as president of the Haliburton Highlands Chamber of Commerce.

V&S manager Clay Glecoff has put his name forward to serve on the executive.

The remainder of the executive will stay the same with Schell serving as chairman Chris O’Mara-Enders as vice-chairman Ashworth as treasurer and Brad Park Renzo Rosati Jennifer Little Sharon Rowden and Nancy Wood-Roberts rounding out the group.