Carp BIA hopes to expand boundary

CARP – When you are an all-volunteer organization serving a tiny business community, you better be scrappy.

The Village of Carp Business Improvement Area (BIA) is one of 19 in the City of Ottawa and one of two in West Carleton with the Carp Road Corridor BIA the other. City of Ottawa staff created the boundaries of the BIA districts. Landlords who own commercial property inside a BIA zone pay an additional levy on their tax, which is used by the volunteer BIA board of directors within the specific BIA to support business improvement and economic development within the BIA boundary.

Expanding the Village of Carp BIA is just one of the strategic goals for 2024 attendees to today’s (Jan. 25) BIA annual general meeting, including Coun. Clarke Kelly (who is a board member representing the City of Ottawa), heard.

The AGM, held online via Zoom, was a brisk 20-minute meeting, focusing on an organization in strong financial shape thanks to all that volunteer work.

Kelly, fresh from his return from the ROMA Conference in Toronto, had a few words to share with the attendees.

“There are so many positive things I can say about this group and the things you are doing,” Kelly said. “The village is a special place and really puts our community on the map.”

The Carp BIA has for many years taken a $13,000 levy from its, except in 2020 when the board did not charge a levy as businesses made their way through the challenging times of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Once again, in 2024 the BIA will not increase the amount of the levy it collects.

“With the scrappiness around the table, we don’t need to look at increasing that budget yet,” Carp BIA chair Jennifer Stewart said.

The BIA says its in a strong financial position starting 2024 with $19,000 in reserves. Stewart says after the BIA pays its bills such as insurance and audit fees, it will have $8,000 in operating cash.

Stewart discussed some of the major projects the BIA undertook in 2023. Its biggest event was the Harvest Supper held last September. It was a feast put on for the community as well as neighbours, created and prepared by local businesses using that year’s harvest from local producers.

It was a smashing success, one West Carleton Online witnessed in person.

Stewart said the event cost $40,000 to put on which was covered in part by many community sponsors and the piece de resistance was a $10,000 donation to the West Carleton Food Access Centre.

Another major project was the Carp Memorial Hall restoration which included repairs, paint and a beautiful mural honouring Carp’s heritage.

“We had an $8,000 budget and we tripled that through the efforts of community and volunteers,” Stewart said.

The BIA AGM also took a look forward at a number of projects to support and promote the Carp business community.

The BIA is looking at expanding the BIA boundary to include some of Carp’s outer lying businesses. While the BIA has always supported businesses like the Diefenbunker: Canada’s Cold War Museum, Old Huntley Orchard (formerly Harvest Moon Orchard), KIN Vineyard and the CSS Building, to name a few, the organization wants to officially bring them under their umbrella.

BIA board member Lisa Kyte is leading that project and spoke on the plans.

“We have a really strong desire to include the businesses around the village,” she said.

“We want to bring in businesses like the Diefenbunker, KIN, the orchard and other businesses that are really part of the community,” Steward said.

As it is the City of Ottawa that sets the boundaries, the BIA will use a consultation process to get the work started and secured a grant from the City of Ottawa to pay for the consultants.

Over the last couple of years, the BIA has erected two beautiful Welcome to Carp signs at two of the entrances to the village (Carp Road and Donald B. Munro Drive on the south side of the village). The BIA hopes to build a third sign also on Donald B. Munro, but entering the village from the north-west. Stewart says the project, from the cost of the sign to installation, costs from $16,000 to $18,000 “when you factor in the road work.”

The project is already moving forward.

“We’ve already commissioned the artist to start working,” Stewart said. “Along with this project we’ve developed a brand.”

After the success of last summer’s Harvest Supper, the BIA is “working towards a 2025 Harvest Supper,” Stewart said.

The BIA hopes to make the supper a biennial event.

“I think that’s it,” Stewart said after 20 minutes. “We’re very efficient in the village.”

Kelly opened the meeting and closed the meeting.

“I think that’s exciting,” he said. “I’m willing to help out any way we can.”

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