How now cash cow…

There was a time when, if downtown store owners wanted to spruce up their commercial property, they saved their money and fixed it up.

Later there was time when, if downtown store owners wanted to spruce up their commercial property, they went to the Downtown Nanaimo Partnership (DNP) and asked for a grant to help them pay to fix it up.  In Nanaimo, half of the $412,000 available to the DNP came from other downtown BIA business owners and the other $206,000 came from everybody else.

Most recently, if downtown store owners want to spruce up their commercial property, they go to City Council and ask for funds.  At its last meeting Council awarded $20,000 for façade improvements to three commercial enterprises.  This money did not come from the funds provided to the Downtown Nanaimo Partnership, but was a double dip of public funding for our private downtown businesses bringing the general taxpayer share to $226,000.

They say that money is the root of all evil.  It may not be strictly true, but one can see its insidious effects in the working of the $206,000 BIA taxpayer subsidy. (“Public BIA cash not monitored, say Critics”, Derek Spalding, in the Daily News, April 1.)  While dividing earned cash is contentious enough, dividing windfall cash is explosive.  Everybody wants a bite of the “freebie”.  Nanaimo is the only municipality in BC which provides matching funds to BIA collections.  I think they all know something that we do not.

– Ron Bolin

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