CRCBIA 2020 focus on water, transit

CARP – The Carp Road Corridor Business Improvement Area (CRCBIA) will continue to focus on improved municipal services business owners and landlords heard during last week’s (Nov. 20) annual general meeting.

Around 40 business owners and stakeholders attended the Wednesday morning AGM starting with breakfast before getting to the meat of the meeting.

“Most of our work this year was related to the official plan,” CRCBIA executive director Roddy Bolivar said summing up 2019.

Bolivar kicked off the event with a greeting before inviting Coun. Eli El-Chantiry up for a few words and then keynote speaker City of Ottawa Economic Development and Long Range Planning director Don Herweyer.

Herweyer was a last-minute replacement for city general manager Steve Kanellakos who had a semi-surprise light rail train meeting to attend.

“Steve said I should not make any jokes about the LRT, so I won’t do that,” Herweyer deadpanned.

Herweyer then shared his thoughts on economic development.

“There are more than 1,000 working farms making us unique for major cities,” Herweyer said. “They are critical.”

Of course, the CRCBIA has no farms as members. The CRCBIA represents Ottawa’s largest light industrial park which includes more than 370 businesses and property owners along Carp Road on both sides of the Queensway. More than 3,000 people are employed in the area which includes light industry and commercial land.

In Ottawa there are 19 BIAs comprising 6,400 businesses employing 22 per cent of the city’s workforce.

Those BIAs allow our local businesses to thrive,” Herweyer said.

Herweyer said council heard the CRCBIA “loud and clear” when it pertained to transportation. He said the city is earmarking $51 million for city roads in 2020 and will look “at the criteria for the possibility of extending (public transportation) to certain areas.”

“We know that’s near and dear to Roddy’s heart,” Herweyer said.

When it comes to the city’s Budget 2020 and the Official Plan the city is “looking at various opportunities and investment in our rural areas,” he said.

The city is at the beginning of developing a new Rural Economic Development Plan.

“Right now, it’s in the draft stage,” Herweyer said. “Over the next couple of months, we’ll share it with various stakeholders and refine it and then send it out to you.”

He expects that should happen in the first quarter of 2020.

Herweyer opened the floor to questions and Bolivar took advantage.

“With the city expanding there’s an uncertainty of what might be built on lots,” he said.

Herweyer said the city is going to “reopen the approval processes.”

“We’re in the midst of a deep dive,” he said. “We know we can do better.”

A business owner felt the CRCBIA deserved more services for its taxes including water and transportation.

“I know there’s interest here,” Herweyer said. “We’re looking for a path forward to see if that can happen. Is that going to happen next year? Probably not.”

Eli El-Chantiry added some input on the issue too.

“It will take three to four years to service the area,” he said. “It’s no secret this is what we want done. This is the first step in the process. Making policy change is not as easy as you think.”

He also feels there’s options on the water front – it doesn’t just have to be a pipe from Stittsville.

“We spent $3.8 million at the Carp water plant,” he said. “There’s plenty of water and it’s good.”

After Herweyer’s address, Bolivar wrapped up 2019 for the CRCBIA. He said the organization achieved a lot in 2019.

The CRCBIA participated and provided input during Ottawa’s Official Plan process and the city’s new Rural Economic Development Strategy.

“The BIA worked with members, the city’s consultant and project team and other business groups to bring attention to the importance of the light industry and manufacturing sector in the corridor and in general in Ottawa’s rural community,” Bolivar said. “A highlight was hosting an internationally recognized expert in economic development in small communities who concluded the corridor and adjacent Village of Carp have all the ingredients needed for continued success.”

Bolivar added a lot of his work included responding to member requests and assisting them one-on-one with their issues.

Bolivar says the CRCBIA has a few focuses for 2020 with water and transit at the top of the list.

“We continue to go at that,” Bolivar said. “To clarify, if that comes it’s a new bill.”

Working with the city on infrastructure and transportation master plans as well as the Rural Economic Development Strategy will continue to be priorities.

“The Official Plan affects our day-to-day business,” Bolivar said. “It’s very important.”

The CRCBIA also plans to work closer with the Village of Carp BIA “to promote the community, residential, business and employment feature of the area. We’re here and there are jobs here.”

CRCBIA financial officer Sandra Cain then went over the proposed budget.

The CRCBIA proposed a $131,475 budget for 2020 that was $25 less than the 2019 actual budget. According to budget prognostications, the CRCBIA expects to have a surplus of $27,438 by Dec. 31, 2020.

“Memberships are up significantly,” she said. “It’s a break-even budget.”

CRCBIA board member Wayne French concluded the meeting with thanks to the BIA’s sole employee.

“The person that really leads the whole team is Roddy,” French said. “He brings a lot of experience. We appreciate the work you do Roddy, thank you very much.”

Bolivar has been the CRCBIA executive director since 2011.