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Downtown Vitality and the Role of Business Improvement Areas


Downtown Vitality and the Role of Business Improvement Areas

By Carola Perez, Tony Hernandez and Ken Jones

Business Improvement Areas (BIAs) are geographically defined commercial areas, typically inner city or downtown, within which associations of businesses and property owners collaborate to promote and improve the local business economy.   Dating back to the early 1970s, the BIA concept has been established in many of Canada's urban areas (including many small towns).  Over recent years, the number of BIAs has continued to increase, in part a response to the increasing pressure that has been placed upon the economic health of downtown areas across Canada.

This letter provides an update on research that the CSCA has undertaken in partnership with the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing and a small number of Ontario-based BIAs.  First, the BIA concept is defined, and the factors promoting their growth examined.  Second, details are provided of the geo-data warehouse that the CSCA developed for eight study case BIAs in Ontario.

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