August 12, 2013 - 7:24 PM
KELOWNA - Ensuring downtown business is hopping and streets are clean and safe comes at a cost.
For the fifth time since 1989, city councillors today approved yearly funding for the Downtown Kelowna Association. With updated boundaries for its business improvement area, the association projects $780,850 from the City come 2014 and by 2018 that number will climb to $887,407.
That money comes from taxes leveraged on both light industrial and business properties that fall within the improvement area. The association services 443 property owners and 783 businesses in the downtown area.
With the increased demand in services expected with the largescale development at the Central Green site, the association is keeping their boundaries conservative, extending to include only two properties at the north end of St. Paul Street and the Sunsplex Sports Arena on Ellis Street.
Funding covers the association's costs for events like After5, the Bernard Avenue Block Party, Small Shop Saturday, as well as ongoing services like the information concierge kiosk, the Clean Team and security personnel.
In coming years the association expects to hire more staff to carry out those services, including its red-clad "On Call" team who keep individuals from loitering or disrupting public safety in situations outside the RCMP's mandate.
Association executive director Peggy Athans says their crews regularly move disruptive individuals from the area, and says future funding will extend these patrols into the weekends.
"It's important as people are leaving restaurants, they see a presence of our security team," she says.
Another goal is to turn the concierge kiosk located in front of the Sails into a permanent booth in Kerry Park. The kiosk currently serves as a popular reference point for visitors seeking more information about the city.
Athans says their business goals often overlap with Tourism Kelowna, especially through dine-out events that bring visitors to the downtown area.
"We want to tap into the wine tourist," Athans says, a "high-yield" tourist likely to spend a bit more time and money when in town.
Before finalizing the new improvement scheme, the association must poll all member businesses. The deadline for receipt of petitions is 4 p.m. Monday September 23.
Image Credit: City of Kelowna
News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2013