What’s a BIA?

Ottawa’s Business Improvement Areas (BIAs) include some of our most vibrant commercial districts. BIAs come into existence when local business and property owners join together to improve, promote and undertake projects that will result in a stronger and more competitive commercial main street or business district. With the City’s support, they organize, finance and complete local improvements and promotional events from their common location within a defined commercial area. The range of activities that a BIA undertakes are:

  • Marketing: Understanding who area customers are, and creating effective promotions to retain and expand the customer base.
  • Business recruitment: Working with property owners to ensure that available space is occupied, and that an optimum business and service mix is achieved and maintained.
  • Streetscape improvement and other amenities: Providing for more customer-friendly lighting, signage, street furniture, planters, banners and sidewalk treatment.
  • Seasonal decorations: Creating a unique and pleasant environment for customers and staff of all businesses, retail and non-retail, through the use of decorations that are appropriate to the season and holiday.
  • Special events: Organizing and partnering in special events that highlight the unique attributes of the area and increase customer visits.


What’s the role of the city?

In order for a BIA to be successful, it requires the commitment of the business community to undertake the organizational planning to establish the zone as well as to direct the programming of the BIA on an ongoing basis. The City of Ottawa recognizes the importance of the collaborative approach and its payback to the business community and is committed in its support and encouragement to business groups to examine the formation of a BIA for their area. The City will assist in the formal designation of a BIA and collect a special zone levy, which is returned to the BIA for its administration, annual budget and programming needs.

(Source: City of Ottawa)