Woodstock BIA looks to expand to south side of river

by | Feb 7, 2024

Downtown Woodstock board believes expanded Business Improvement Area boundary will benefit businesses, customers

After almost four decades, Woodstock’s Business Improvement Area board believes it’s time the BIA serves all Downtown Woodstock commercial property owners.

The Woodstock Business Improvement Corporation (Downtown Woodstock) held an open house at Connell House on Jan. 29 to explain its plans and benefits to downtown business owners. While few people attended, BIA advisor Trina MacDonald said the board has or will contact commercial property owners to explain its expansion plans.

While the BIA includes a property tax levy of 20 cents per $100 of assessment, MacDonald said the money comes back to them through a wide variety of programs and benefits. She added that was especially true in Woodstock.

“Downtown Woodstock hits way above its weight,” said MacDonald, general manager of Business Fredericton North, who works with several BIAs across the province.

She said that the Woodstock BIA delivers a huge bang for its buck thanks to a dedicated and active board and innovative thinking, including taking the lead in securing a wealth of federal and provincial grant programs.

Since its establishment under a federal government’s Corporation Agreement in 1986, the Woodstock BIA included a section of downtown Woodstock on the north side of the Meduxnekeag Bridge. It included Main Street between the post office and the bridge, Queen Street, King Street, and portions of Connell Street, Chapel Street and other downtown streets.

The BIA hopes to expand its boundaries to incorporate a section of Main and other streets on the south side of the bridge.

MacDonald said the current BIA boundaries left southside business owners unable to take advantage of several Downtown Woodstock programs and left many customers and clients disappointed that deals and promotions didn’t extend to the other side of the river.

She explained that the BIA promotes member businesses and provides opportunities to work together to provide a functional, safe and attractive business district.

MacDonald listed only a few of the many promotions and programs the BIA championed over the past 36 years to benefit downtown merchants.

On the promotional side, MacDonald explained that Downtown Woodstock dollars allow the public to purchase unique currency to be redeemed at retailers and service providers within the BIA.

Unlike a gift card for a specific business, the holder of DW Dollars can spend them at any retailer or service provider in the BIA region. She said the public could purchase DW Dollars anytime, but the board offers two sales per year where the public can buy the dollars at a 20 per cent discount.

MacDonald explained shoppers can purchase up to $500 for $400, saving $100 in purchases from BIA retailers or professional service providers.

“We’ve seen a 97 per cent return on these dollars,” she explained, noting that’s a much higher rate of return than on typical gift cards.

MacDonald said the active BIA board heavily promotes downtown business through a robust online presence and several promotional events.

She cited the Rediscover Main Street program, funded by an ACOA grant. She explained the program financed Movies on the Meduxnekeag, David Myles in concert at Connell House and music at the Woodstock Farm Market.

It also helped fund the “Let’s Meet Downtown” campaign, which included special events at Walter’s Table, Creek Village Gallery and Cafe and other locations.

MacDonald said those and other events will continue this year, along with a unique “Shop Local” campaign, which sees 14 draws offering $100 each in Downtown Dollars to the winners. She said customers get a ballot with each purchase from a downtown business.

MacDonald said the active BIA Board of Directors secured funding for several grant programs to support downtown business owners’ efforts to upgrade and improve their buildings.

She explained that the Facade program, for example, provided funds to help business owners improve signage and brick or paint in the front of the buildings.

MacDonald said a program she described as “unique to the province” gives someone opening a new business access to funding support for interior improvements.

During COVID, MacDonald said, the BIA helped downtown businesses reopen safely by providing up to $500 in grant funds to set up plexiglass dividers or safely adjust their traffic flow.

MacDonald was joined at the open house by BIA President John Thompson, Vice President Anna Andow, and town representative Coun. Julie Calhoun-Wiilliams, explained the board works closely with the town council and staff of downtown enhancements.

She cited the new park on Chapel Street, behind the L. P. Fisher Public Library, as an example.

Calhoun-Williams praised the efforts of the BIA board, noting it works closely with the town to enhance downtown Woodstock. She said the council envisions developing the downtown business core and the waterfront into a tourist and commercial draw.

MacDonald explained that the BIA expects to decide whether to expand its boundaries by the end of February. She said it would contact all property owners and expects an immediate response.

She said the plan needs 67 per cent support from commercial property owners, noting anyone opposing the plan must respond to the BIA. She said that the BIA would consider a non-response as support for the expansion plan.

FOREST FIRE INDEX – click image for current status

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from our team.

You have successfully subscribed! A confirmation email has been sent to your email account. To complete your subscription, open the email and click on the confirmation link. (If you can't find it in your inbox, try your junk and spam folders.) If you'd like to receive our updates more than once a week, please click the "Manage your subscription" link at the bottom of your Newsletter.