Peterborough city council has approved a new bylaw that puts new restrictions on local business improvement areas (BIA). Among other things, it gives the city the power to dismiss members of a group’s board of directors and forbids a BIA from appealing any decisions of city council to the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB).
This comes after the Downtown Business Improvement Area (DBIA), the city’s largest, threatened to take the city to the OMB over its decision to build a new casino away from the downtown core. The DBIA dropped its appeal after they reached a deal with the city that will see them receive $150,000 a year for 20 years.
“The BIA is set up for beautification and promotion, that’s it, that’s their job. And when they go outside of that realm, that’s not the job they are supposed to be doing,” Coun. Keith Riel said.
DBIA board chair Dave Madill says the new bylaw was drafted without any input from his board or members. He attended Monday’s meeting in the hopes that council would defer a decision on the bylaw. He says all citizens, businesses and community groups should have the right to appeal when municipal governments don’t follow their own laws which, he says, is the case here. He maintains the city official plan indicates things like casinos should be built in the downtown core but the city moved it to a location in the south end. The new bylaw would prohibit the DBIA from appealing such a decision.
“We have a right to an OMB appeal. And we’ve been told by council members we have crossed the line when in fact we didn’t. It’s a democratic right,” Madill said.