Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is a BIA?

A Business Improvement Area (BIA) is an association of commercial property owners and tenants within a defined area who work in partnership with the City of Ottawa to create thriving, competitive, and safe business areas that attract shoppers, diners, service seekers, tourists, as well as new businesses. 


A Business Improvement Area (BIA) permits local businesses and property owners within the defined district to join together and, with the support of the municipality, organize, finance, improve and promote the area as a commercial district. 


BIAs are a way for commercial districts to pool resources to promote and improve their area, enhance the quality of life in their local neighborhood and speak with one common voice. 

How many BIAs are there?

In 1970, Toronto welcomed the world’s first Business Improvement Area (Bloor West Village). BIA legislation was enacted and became Section 204-217 of the Municipal act. Since then, there have been 19 BIAs created in Ottawa, 300 BIAs in Ontario and 4,000 BIAs worldwide.

When was the Heart of Orléans BIA created?

The Heart of Orléans BIA was started by our business community in 2008.

How many businesses are represented by BIAs?

There are approximately 6,400 members represented by the 19 BIAs in Ottawa. The Heart of Orléans represents approximately 350 of these businesses.

How does a BIA work?

A BIA is run by a volunteer Board of Management elected from its members. The Board is nominated at an Annual General Meeting and, once approved by City Council, serves a four-year term concurrent with the term of Council. The Board works on behalf of its BIA and meets regularly to develop budgets, set priorities, implement improvements and promote its business area as a destination.

What does a BIA do?


BIAs often provide enhancements in a business area to create a more pleasant atmosphere for local businesses and neighbouring residential areas. The most common way is streetscape improvement through gateway signage, street furniture, planters, banners and seasonal decorations.

Revitalization and Maintenance

BIAs can help to influence, revitalize, improve and maintain physical infrastructure through its partnerships with all three levels of government. They also help make an area cleaner and safer through things like graffiti removal and working with the city to provide enhanced street cleaning/snow removal and/or additional garbage receptacles.

Marketing and Promotion

To retain and expand its customer base, a BIA may encourage both local residents and others to shop and use services within the local commercial district through marketing and promotional activities.

Special Events

BIAs often organize and work with community partners and event organizers to hold special events to network, provide information and/or promote and showcase their businesses.

Business Recruitment

BIAs often work with commercial or industrial property owners to help ensure that available space is occupied, and that an optimum business and service mix is achieved and maintained.


BIAs can act as a voice for the business community and often establish important relationships with other community voices, such as city council, municipal departments, the Ottawa Coalition of BIAs, local community groups and institutions (Ottawa Boards of Trade RGA, SFOPHO, etc.). The BIA forum can be used to convey community concerns to council and help prompt council to pursue policies and activities to promote and strengthen the community and its unique identity. Likewise, it can provide a feedback mechanism for council issues.

How is a BIA funded?

Once the BIA members approve the budget and City Council ratifies it, funds are raised through a tax levy on all commercial and industrial properties within the BIA’s boundary. Calculation of this levy is based on the proportionate value of each property’s commercial and/or industrial assessment. The City collects the levy and processes payments and or invoices that are approved by the Chair and Treasurer of the board of management. The BIA office manages/monitors the approved budget throughout the year to ensure that the board stays on track with spending.

Where is the Heart of Orléans BIA?

Our BIA runs along St-Joseph Boulevard from Youville Drive east all the way to Centrum Boulevard. There are a couple of jet outs at Jeanne D’Arc, Place D’Orléans Drive and Centrum Boulevard.

OrleansBIA MapforWebsite Blue

What is our vision for the Heart of Orléans BIA?

Our vision is a prosperous district in the heart of Orléans, a place where community happens.


We strive to be a strong community leader, influencing decisions for Orléans, and inspiring positive change.


We are committed to advocating for and promoting our district, and empowering our members.

Generating Wealth

All our activities help support the long-term economic development of our district and the strength and vibrancy of our members.


A BIA is based on the principle of stronger, together. We are committed to helping our members connect and collaborate with each other, and working with key players in the broader community of Orléans.

What is our Mandate?

Our BIA mandate is to


  1. To promote the area as a district
  2. To advocate on behalf of our members
  3. To make improvements to the streetscape

All with the goal of improving the economic strength of the district.

Are there any subcommittees in the BIA?

In order to address our mandate, the Heart of Orléans is divided into pillars – Member Engagement, Marketing and Promotion, and Streetscape and Beautification. Each pillar represents a team of volunteers that is led by a board member.

Marketing & Promotion Team

Makes the Heart of Orléans brand come to life and markets the district as a whole through publishing our award winning magazine, The Beat, promoting events, and more. The BIA has a Marketing Strategic Plan that guides the work of this team.

The Member Engagement Team

Engages the business community in Orléans and connects people in meaningful ways through networking, events, and communication strategies.

The Streetscape & Beautification Team

Beautifies the district through graffiti removal, planters, seasonal lighting, banners, and more. There is a long-term Streetscape Strategic Plan to make the district more walkable, bike-able, and connected to future light rail.

How does a BIA help the local economy?

There are 120,000 employees within a BIA and 21.7% of Ottawa jobs are located in BIAs. BIAs improve their local economies through activities such as:

Marketing and Promotion

Promotion of the BIA as a business, employment, tourist or shopping area (business directories, festivals, advertising) The local community and/or tourists visit the BIA and spend their money in the area. The BIA eventually becomes more desirable and has the potential to increase property values.

Festivals and Events

Hosting or promoting neighborhood festivals and events encourages a sense of excitement amongst the community and has the potential to promote reinvestment. It leads to increased foot traffic, which will benefit surrounding businesses. Larger events also have the potential for job creation and revitalization.

Graffiti Removal Services

Both the local community and tourists want to visit a clean, safe destination and with our graffiti removal program in place, it provides businesses the opportunity to operate in a desirable environment.

Strategic Plans

Working with experts to develop an overall strategic plan, a marketing strategic plan as well as a streetscape plan allows for continued growth. 


Advocating on behalf of our membership as a unified voice brings attention to a sometimes underserved suburb of Ottawa in need of a redeveloped main street. 

Why do businesses want to be a part of the BIA?

Orléans has the second-highest ratio in Ottawa for daily trips that stay right in the community. In 2011, 67% of all daily trips by Orléans residents stayed here. This number has likely increased given the number of government employees continuing to work from home. That’s great news for our small businesses in the Heart of Orléans.


The BIA district also offers something unique in Orléans – an authentic experience of independent businesses, a place to connect with business owners and residents, and a real sense of community.


Be sure to check out the benefits of becoming a BIA member or an associate member.

How can we connect with the Heart of Orléans BIA?

There are various ways to connect with our organization. The easiest way is to send us an email at [email protected]. You can call or text 613.617.0608 or 613.899.8442 as well as send us a message through our Contact Us page on our website or on social media through Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and/or Instagram