Heart of Orléans BIA

What is a BIA anyway?

We’re glad you asked!  In a nutshell, the Heart of Orléans Business Improvement Area (BIA) is a not-for-profit Board of Management, started by our business community in 2008. BIAs are a way for business districts to pool resources to improve the area and speak with one common voice. We do this by promoting the areas as a district, advocating on behalf of our members, and making improvements to the streetscape.

BIAs are a “made in Ontario” innovation, now employed internationally, with thousands of BIAs around the world. The world’s very first BIA was created in 1970 in Bloor West Village. Since the creation of this first BIA, many more have been established. Now there are more than 270 BIAs in Ontario, varying in size from fewer than 60 business and property owners to more than 2000. The BIA concept is now adopted by more than 500 communities across Canada, 2000 throughout the United States, and thousands more around the world including Europe, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and Japan.

There are 19 BIAs here in Ottawa. Together, we represent more than 6,400 property owners and businesses who employ 120,000 people and generate a quarter of a billion dollars in municipal tax revenue each year. Ottawa BIA’s invest an additional $7.4 million each year into their neighbourhoods. On-street beautification initiatives, marketing and promotional campaigns, street festivals, clean-street campaigns and public safety initiatives are but a few examples of a BIA’s important work. We advocate for the interests of our business members and the greater community on a host of issues and serve as catalysts for positive change.

The Ottawa Coalition of Business Improvement Areas (OCOBIA) is the unified voice of all 19 Business Improvement Areas (BIAs) in Ottawa and their role is to:

  • Advocate and influence policies that affect BIAs and their surrounding communities
  • Protect the interests of BIAs and communicate the importance of their impact on local economies and tourism
  • Promote strong, successful and effective BIAs in the City of Ottawa
  • Implement joint initiatives that benefit groups within OCOBIA on issues and projects, including studies and research in marketing.
  • Facilitate and share the exchange of information, experiences and ideas among BIAs through a centralized resource

The Heart of Orléans BIA represents over 350 businesses in Orléans. Our BIA was created because local business people and property owners felt the need for a common voice along St-Joseph Boulevard, the original “main street” of Orléans. The Heart of Orléans BIA:

  • Takes a leadership role in attracting the kind of businesses that makes the Heart of Orléans distinct.
  • Represents the heart of the community of Orléans as the place of choice for specialty goods, professional services, unique dining experiences, shops that are local and family-run, and arts and culture.
  • Nurtures an engaged and enthusiastic membership that reflects and values our vibrant community.
  • Is passionate about bringing vibrant festivals and events to Orléans throughout the year.
  • Works towards a revitalized district for Orléans – one that is more walkable, bikeable and connected to light rail.
  • Champions redevelopment and intensification around future light rail, and creating an economic corridor for the east end of the city.
  • Attracts more jobs to Orléans. More employment here also means more business for our existing service sector, every day.

Simply put, the BIA is a local Board that allows businesses and commercial property owners to join together to promote the economic development of and improve the district.

Leaders from the Heart of Orléans BIA are elected to the Board of Management to represent our wide range of member businesses, including retail, health and wellness, real estate, the food industry and finance professionals. These Board members volunteer their time to further the goals of the BIA. Two City of Ottawa Councillors sit as non-voting Board members, which is an essential link to local representatives. We also have a full-time Executive Director and a Marketing and Member Engagement Liaison.

The BIA represents the heart of Orléans as the place of choice for specialty goods, professional services, high quality service, unique dining and entertainment, and shops that are local and family run. We’re committed to nurturing an engaged and enthusiastic membership. The BIA helps create a beautiful, trendy destination. We strive to reflect the unique heritage of the areas that are the original “main street” of Orléans, but also strive towards developing a vibrant, walkable, bike-friendly area that includes some mixed use spaces as well as green space. Clearly, it’s a work in progress as our streetscape plans require financial support from all three levels of government.

If a commercial property or business falls within the Heart of Orléans BIA boundary, they are automatically a member. If a commercial property or business falls outside the BIA boundary but within 5KM of it, there is an opportunity for an associate membership. 

Interested in joining us? Stay tuned for our blog on membership!