Chemainus BIA makes flower basket case

Says its beautification program will have to be curtailed without municipal funding

Ward Yeager of the Chemainus business Improvement Association urged North Cowichan Council to wake up and smell the flowers, the ones in hanging baskets that grace the town over the summer and – before 2015 – during the Christmas season.

He asked the municipality to fund the program fully, and to “take over the responsibility of operating both these programs.”

North Cowichan already provides $15,000 for hanging baskets from its  grants-in-aid budget, but that’s $7,325 short of what’s needed, and requires the BIA apply every year for the funding.

“Without this increase the BIA has no choice but to either reduce or cancel the programs,” a letter from the North Cowichan BIA to council stated.

Yeager said abandoning the program would be a step backward in plans to revitalize the downtown core of Chemainus, and ‘repurpose’ it as a vital ‘green’ area for business owners and residents.

“The Chemainus BIA believes the beautification of our downtown area is vital to a successful, vibrant, healthy community,” he said.

“This investment benefits the total community and as such the costs for this need to be shared by both residents and businesses through their property taxes.”

He said the BIA has done a review of nine other Island communities and found that “no other municipality or city government requires their BIAs or Chamber of Commerce to take on both the financial responsibility and operational responsibility of maintaining a flower basket program.”

Council directed staff to report back to the Feb. 17 meeting with a recommendation.