Carp village BIA focusing past COVID-19

By Jake Davies - West Carleton Online

CARP – The businesses under the Village of Carp Business Improvement Area (BIA) were particularly challenged by COVID-19 in 2021, and in 2022 the association we’ll focus on its members’ recovery.

The BIA volunteer board met, along with Coun. Eli El-Chantiry as the city representative, last week (Jan. 25) virtually to hold its annual general meeting.

Carp village BIA logo.

Most of 2021 was spent in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. The lockdowns and forced closures have been particularly hard on the many hospitality and boutique businesses that make up the BIA. In an effort to help its members, the BIA did not take a levy from its membership in 2020. BIAs are funded by a levy added to the municipal taxes of all businesses within the BIA area. In an effort to fund the pandemic recovery, the BIA did take a $13,000 levy in 2021.

The 2021 strategic goals of the BIA executive were to promote small business through a variety of media such as digital channels, print publications, outreach and engagement. The BIA also searched for opportunities to promote its members in the media.

“We wanted to be an active voice for business,” BIA chair Jennifer Stewart told the meeting participants. “We focused on business resiliency.”

The BIA published three editions of its semi-regular magazine The Villager at 500 copies each edition. The BIA, as part of its partnership with West Carleton Online, participated in the A Carp Christmas campaign, a promotional series of business profiles with a focus on the holiday season in West Carleton. The BIA also hosted its popular Light Up the Village event for the second year in a row.

“It was an opportunity to remind people of the diverse businesses in Carp,” Stewart said.

The BIA also worked as a lobby group for the businesses’ interests when meeting with politicians.

“We’ve had ongoing, active engagement with all levels of government,” Stewart said.

Two of the BIAs most noticeable accomplishments are the two new Village of Carp signs erected at Carp and March roads and Donald B. Munro Dr. and March Road. The signs were funded in part by the BIA and some grant money from the City of Ottawa.

In 2022, the BIA is looking at being part of a greater community project to create a Carp Heritage Walk.

“Janet Mason (of the Friends of the Carp Hills) is spearheading this project and has reached out to several key organizations for help, including the BIA,” Stewart said.

A core group representing several local organizations met Jan. 19.

The Carp Heritage Walk will be a set of interpretive sigs located in and around the village highlighting points of significance in the community. The walk will loop through the downtown business area and out to the Diefenbunker Museum.

“We thought this was viable and something people wanted,” Stewart said. “From a BIA standpoint, we thought we could get the businesses involved.”

BIA treasurer Greg LeBlanc gave a budget overview. LeBlanc said the BIA spent about $42,000 last year which included its part of the new signs ($30,000), publication of The Villager magazine and other promotional activities.

The grants the BIA received through the Winter Grant Program totalled roughly $22,636. The BIA also carried over roughly $7,200 in surplus from 2020. LeBlanc said the BIA is bringing a roughly $3,200 reserve in to 2022.

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