The Heart of Orléans BIA and the Municipal Election
The Heart of Orléans and the Municipal Election
The Heart of Orléans BIA is a Business Improvement Area under the Ontario Municipal Act and is a Local Board of Council. The mission of each BIA is a “collective good” – The work is not to make any one business better, but to make the area a better place to do business. The Heart of Orléans BIA does this through promoting the area as a district, advocating on behalf of our members and making improvements to the streetscape.
The Ottawa Coalition of Business Improvement Areas (OCOBIA) consists of 19 Ottawa BIAs of different sizes – memberships of less than 100 members to those with over 500 members, and BIAs with budgets of $100K to those with budgets of over $1M. We are committed to keeping membership costs as low as possible while continuing to provide value to our members.
The businesses within our BIA are innovators, entrepreneurs and part of the creative community. Our BIA is the ‘heart’ of the community of Orléans, representing heritage, economy, arts, revitalization and tourism. The work of BIAs has never been more critical than it is today during this unprecedented time in history, the COVID-19 pandemic. Now we must turn our sights to recovery. Our BIA represents about 350 small businesses with a critical employment base, integral to driving our economy. Our future recovery must start with our BIAs’ small businesses.
Although our BIAs are Local Boards of Council we are required to be at arm’s length and non-partisan in our approach to the Municipal Elections. To ensure fairness, our BIA is not meeting individual candidates. However, we are pleased to provide a list of challenges and potential solutions to all candidates running in the municipal election in October and hope that this list proves helpful as candidates develop their campaigns.
Our list is guided by the following important topics and themes: Density, Complete Streets and Active Transportation, Public Realm, Public Space and Parks, and Climate.
Business Improvement Areas are an Ontario innovative legacy, first created in 1970 when Ontario’s Municipal Act created the first BIA legislation in the world (S204-216). For BIAs to function more efficiently, we support the Ontario Business Improvement Association’s (OBIAA’s) request for a review of the Municipal Act to provide clarity, refine and recognize the important role BIAs play.
We also support OCOBIA’s request for a Memorandum of Understanding between the BIAs and the City of Ottawa to outline roles and responsibilities of each organization ensuring equity and fairness across the board.
Housing and Social Issues
There is a shortage of affordable housing. Although more so in the core, we have seen an increase in the number of homeless individuals, panhandlers and encampments in Orléans.
- At-Risk of Homelessness: Proportional distribution and planning of affordable housing need to exist within Ottawa.
- Main Street Vacant Properties: Chronically vacant properties need to be incentivized through strengthened property standards and through the Orléans Community Improvement Plan (CIP).
- Lack of Small Infrastructure: Funding programs need to be made available to BIAs with matching funds from both the province and the municipality to support small infrastructure improvements (such as public washrooms).
- Supporting Intensification: Discourage developments that don’t support intensification (i.e. flat box stores) and take valuable agricultural lands.
- Security and Policing: Integrated approach with experts supporting de-escalation, increased police community-based presence (funding), public realm investment in more street lighting and place-making small infrastructure.
- Mental Health: Appropriate professional ‘on street’ support as required.
There are numerous roadblocks that exist stalling main street economic recovery.
- Roadblocks to Main Street Recovery and/or Reset: Unequal access to grants for BIAs: Expand eligibility for grants and matching funds from the municipality or province currently denied to BIAs. Review current municipal grants to determine value and expand/change them so they reflect current needs. Enable BIA funding for tourism activities.
- Red Tape Impacts on Small Businesses: Prioritize reducing Red Tape burdens.
- Loss of vitality: Allocate funding for Business Recruitment and Retention. A core data investment is needed to enable our BIAs to support their businesses effectively and to compile reports.
The community has lost faith in public transit. Anyone leaving or coming to Orléans to go to work or school spends about 3 hours a day on buses and the LRT. It takes longer now than it did before LRT was put in at Blair. Transit is also extremely unreliable. E.g. broken down trains, late or canceled buses, etc. Not only does it impact the quality of life, but with the highest job vacancies seen for quite some time in several sectors, businesses are challenged with hiring and retaining staff within our geographically expansive city. Public transportation needs urgent attention.
- Fix the broken LRT system.
- Implement bus options until LRT can be implemented properly.
- OC Transpo bus network needs to have better connectivity throughout Orléans to allow the local community to get to the BIA in a timely manner to shop, dine and obtain services locally.
Orléans is experiencing exponential growth and public transit is not always the right choice for growing families in the suburbs. We are often limited with the ways we travel locally as well as getting in and out of Orléans.
- Ensure roads support the increased number of residents.
- Roads need to be maintained more regularly due to increased traffic.
- Improve Hydro grid as required, install more EV charging stations and incentivize the purchase of electric vehicles.
Streetscape and Beautification
The Heart of Orléans BIA has had an overall streetscape plan for over 12 years now. Despite its age, it is still very relevant and was incorporated into the Orléans Corridor Secondary Plan Study this year. It includes things like reducing the number of lanes on St-Joseph boulevard, adding bike lanes, creating wider sidewalks, pathways, parks and spaces to hold events. It is a fantastic plan but the BIA doesn’t want to wait another 12 years to see it implemented.
- Implement the plan in phases.
- Bury Hydro Wires
- Reconfigure St-Joseph to incorporate proper bike lanes and wider sidewalks
- Add pathways leading the community to the BIA district and/or LRT.
- Develop the town center.
- Develop the event space
- Incentivize developers to build mixed use spaces (retail on the main level, residential on top) that butt up against the boulevard with parking behind.
2. When developing the city budget, advocate on behalf of the BIA and obtain funding to implement a portion of the plan each year.
Parks and Recreation
There is city owned property located at Duford and St-Joseph (PIN# 145100011 and PIN # 145100176). This property has an existing flat area where there used to be a bungalow. There are also pathways that lead through the trees all the way to Prestone Drive and up to the community living south of St-Joseph known as Queenswood Heights. These paths have not been maintained since Orléans amalgamated and became a part of Ottawa.
- Improve pathways to current standards and add ‘traditional’ improvements like benches and/or picnic tables.
- Improve the large flat area where the home was originally located by adding grass, a shelter, etc.
- Improve connection to the neighborhood to the south allowing the community to easily get to the BIA (Shenkman Arts Center, Place D’Orléans, Farmboy, etc.) by foot instead of by vehicle.
- Create interactive learning and games for kids along the path, geocaching, fairy houses, musical instruments, etc.
There is a lot of pavement in the BIA with St-Joseph Boulevard being a 4 lane boulevard and lined with large parking lots. In an effort to improve the streetscape and provide shelter and shade to make the BIA more walkable, we would like to see some trees planted. Unfortunately, we are not eligible to take advantage of the 2 to 1 program where 2 trees are planted for each one removed during the LRT development.
- Plant and maintain established trees along city property on the grassy area between the sidewalk and the St-Joseph Boulevard to
- Provide shade and greenery to break up and/or camouflage the huge parking lots.
- absorb the first inch of stormwater saving money in stormwater infrastructure: The powerful virtuous cycles of street trees.
- Increase energy savings – During the colder winter months, trees would do us a great service by blocking strong winds from reaching businesses, leading to reduced heating costs. And in the summertime, they offer shade that keeps businesses cooler.
- Reduce stress and improve health by increasing the benefits of being outside in nature – it’s good for the body and the mind. Even looking at a tree from a window has been proven to reduce stress. Trees also help to protect us from pollutants by acting as natural filters. Harmful heavy metals, nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus on our land surfaces can contaminate our water, but the roots of shrubs intercept these pollutants.
Access to water
The BIA spans along a 4KM stretch down St-Joseph Boulevard from Youville to Centrum with pockets at Jeanne D’Arc. Place D’Orleans and Centrum. There is a lot of pavement with the 4 lane road and large parking lots and not a lot of shade making it difficult to walk and/or bike very far.
- Install and maintain water stations to encourage more foot traffic and less cars which essentially improves the environment.
- Select multi purpose water stations to place along St-Joseph Boulevard where people could fill their water bottles, or drink directly from the fountain.
- Install stations with a built in pet fountain for our furry friends.
- In winter, turn off water and/or look into models that are protected from the elements. e.g. housed in phone booth
It is extremely dark along some parts of St-Joseph Boulevard at night which presents a safety issue for both the community and merchants. A new BIA business has been broken into twice within a month’s time this year. Flowers have gone missing from our large planters and there has been some graffiti.
- Add multi-purpose street lamps to St-Joseph that could also be used to hang BIA banners. This will deter theft, graffiti and vandalism as well as adding some beautification to the boulevard.
There are many older city by-laws that need to be reviewed and updated. For example, the BIA wanted to put in new gateway signage welcoming visitors to the BIA. The sign had an electronic component to advertise events in the BIA – much like you see in other areas across Ontario. Unfortunately, current city by-laws prevented the BIA from erecting that type of signage.
- Review and update older by-laws to ensure they reflect the requests being made today that ultimately shapes our modern city.
Wards in our BIA
The BIA district runs across two city wards:
- Ward 1 – Orléans East-Cumberland
- Ward 2 – Orléans West-Innes
If you would like to see the candidates who are running for Mayor and those who have registered in each ward, please have a look at the City of Ottawa webpage, Certified and acclaimed candidates and registered third party advertisers.