Posts Tagged ‘SMA’

Steveston: Small Business Community Thinks Big

Sunday, May 22nd, 2016

Steveston Village SceneYou may have heard people talking about the SMA and BIA, but what are they and what is the difference between them?

The Steveston Merchants Association (SMA) was formed in 2010 by a group of business owners whose goal was to promote local businesses and drive more customers to their services, shops and restaurants through seasonal events, small scale advertising, a website and social media. With an elective paid membership the SMA does not encompass the entire business district, resulting in a smaller funding pool although events and promotions benefit the entire village.

An elected volunteer board is responsible for organizing popular events such as Christmas in Steveston Village, Girls’ Night Out, the Scarecrow Crawl and Trick or Treat in Steveston Village and has been a voice for many important area concerns.

While the work the SMA accomplishes is outstanding, the merchants’ association model is antiquated.

BIA stands for Business Improvement Areas and what this model offers is far reaching for both merchants and the entire community. Examples of what can be achieved for Steveston include a year round focus for promotional programs and activities, collective advertising and special events designed to drive more visitors to the area. Issues such as pedestrian scale lighting and parking improvements are also a focus of many BIAs.

Steveston’s business community is losing ground as business districts in virtually every surrounding region of Metro Vancouver and throughout B.C. have embraced BIAs. In comparison, Steveston is at a disadvantage without a BIA.

Business districts can dream big with input from a full membership’s participation at the board and committee level.

A simple way to explain a BIA is to imagine a shopping mall management system. All malls have systems in place to drive customers to the mall to benefit business tenants. Steveston without a BIA is like an outdoor mall with no big picture promotional direction. It just isn’t competitive nor does it come close to realized improved potential.

BIAs are able to plan further into the future to successfully promote areas. A BIA is approved by a vote and all businesses within a BIA’s boundaries automatically become members, creating a larger collective voice working for the betterment of businesses and the community.

A BIA is uniquely created for an area, no two are identical, and therefore Steveston could capitalize on its distinct locale where farmland meets the ocean and a historic fishing village.

Jim_vandertas_BlueCanoe_Steveston Village Palla MediaJim van der Tas, owner of the Blue Canoe Waterfront Restaurant (and president of the SMA) believes the sky’s the limit. He envisions everything from an Oktoberfest celebration spread over a number of days to celebrating a new Steveston heritage festival and transforming the entire village into a Christmas wonderland for the month of December to draw people to town.

Getting a BIA off the ground takes a lot of work and commitment from volunteers who believe that focusing on a bigger picture can produce some very effective results.

A new committee called the Steveston Business Development Association (SBDA) has formed under the SMA’s umbrella to partner cooperatively with other local non-profits that see the value a BIA brings to an entire community.

A municipality can’t force a BIA into a business community and generally shouldn’t stop a BIA start up group from asking them to initiate the voting procedure if the group has done positive outreach. After well over a decade of discussion Steveston merchants, land owners and key stakeholders have not gone before City council to ask for the BIA voting procedure but expect to this calendar year.

Peter Tong Pharmasave Steveston Village Palla MediaPeter Tong, owner of Steveston Pharmasave, comments,“ I think a BIA is very important for Steveston.”

“Looking at this unique location and the sensitivity businesses have in trying to protect the history, integrity and feel of the community; there are a lot of political and business challenges that are hard for each business to face alone,” Tong says.

He adds, “Promoting the village, rather than one single business, attracts more people and creates an atmosphere within the village that can only benefit Steveston. I think there are certainly frustrations amongst some business owners who have seen what other BIAs have done and strongly believe one is needed to start promoting the village. The sooner we get this done the better.

Carol_LittleMexico_Steveston Village Palla MediaCarol Janeczko, owner of Little Mexico Cantina, believes, “The opportunity to revitalize Steveston through the formation of a BIA is an exciting prospect. Looking at other similar business districts such as Fort Langley and Cloverdale and seeing what they have accomplished for their communities through elaborate events, marketing and beautification projects is inspiring. It would be amazing to see Steveston advance to that level.”

Jens Hertha DOriginal_Sausage_Steveston Village Palla MediaJens Hertha, owner of D’Original Sausage Haus, agrees. “I am excited about the possibility of having a BIA in Steveston. It would make Steveston stronger. For a business like mine the cost would be less than $200 per year. I strongly believe that a BIA is an investment and everybody benefits from a strong, vibrant business district.”Hertha believes, “This BIA initiative is a significant opportunity and every business and commercial property should plan to learn about it firsthand. This is too important an opportunity to be making a decision about a BIA based on nonfactual information or hearsay from third parties. Make an appointment with the organizers to talk about it.”

To learn more email:
weareopenforbusiness@gmail.com

Steveston Village

Friday, October 2nd, 2015

The Place to be This Fall

Now that summer is a sun-filled memory it is time to turn our attention to one of the loveliest times of the year, autumn, and all of the fabulous fun-filled events Steveston Village offers.

The Steveston Merchants Association (SMA) is a key player in organizing many of the community’s eagerly anticipated celebrations. The SMA’s signature events (Steveston Scarecrow Crawl, Trick-or-Treat in Steveston Village, Girls’ Night Out and Christmas in Steveston Village) are designed to get local residents out strolling the streets and exploring local businesses.

blue canoe scarecrowSteveston Scarecrow Crawl

Now in its sixth year, the Steveston Scarecrow Crawl has become one of the community’s well-loved attractions. During the month of October cleverly themed scarecrows lurk in doorways and peek out of store windows. These delightful handcrafted guardians often reflect the personality of the shop to which they belong.

Many of them are not garden variety scarecrows – in fact, you never know quite what you will spot – whether it is a giant slug, a couture ‘crow, nautical or fairy tale characters (we are after all “Storybrooke”). Bring your camera, pose with your new friends, and step inside the businesses to visit the talented merchants responsible for creating these mascots.

Halloween Costume ContestSteveston Insider Costume Contest

Back by popular demand! Steveston Insider is excited to once again sponsor a Halloween Costume Contest. Photos will be taken by Sandra Steier at the Gulf of Georgia Cannery between 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. on Saturday, October 31. All photos will be posted on Steveston Insider’s website and the lucky winners will be notified. Get creative and good luck! At 3:00 p.m. head out to trick-or-treat at participating businesses.

Trick-or-Treat in Steveston VillageSteveston_Insider_Halloween
Trick-or-Treat in Steveston Village is always a seasonal highlight for little pirates, mermaids, princesses and dragons. It is a real “treat” to see imaginatively costumed children in the daylight hours receiving a Halloween goody from participating merchants. Taking place on Saturday, October 31 between 3:00 to 5:00 p.m., this is the perfect warm up act for the big night! Maps of participating businesses will be available and treats will be handed out while supplies last.

Halloween_Cannery_Steveston_Palla_MediaHalloween at the Cannery
Halloween is a busy time in Steveston Village. The Gulf of Georgia Cannery invites you to solve the Case of the Cannery Curse! Meet their ghostly victim, and other ghoulish characters, on a self-guided mystery tour of the historic cannery. Drop in on October 23, 24, 25 and 31 any time between 1:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m., for this family-fun event. Tickets are available at the door, or in advance. Contact the Cannery for tickets and further information (604-664-9009).

Cannery Farmers’ Market
Gulf of Georgia Cannery, Steveston BCBack for its second year, The Cannery Farmers’ Market 2015-16 season starts on Sunday, October 4. Stock up on local produce and crafts on the following Sundays: October 4 and 18, November 1, 15, 29, December 6 and 20, January 17 and 31, February 7 and 21, March 6 and 20, April 3 and 17. Steveston Insider is proud to play a role as a Cannery Farmers’ Market sponsor.

Steveston Girls Night OutGirls’ Night Out
Girls’ Night Out takes place on Thursday November 26. This SMA event has become legendary and “girls” come in droves to be part of this special night out on the town. Women of all ages take to the streets of Steveston to power shop at SMA businesses, which offer exciting specials and incentives. This is the perfect opportunity to do some Christmas shopping. SMA restaurants will be offering pre and post shopping drinks and dining.

Follow “Steveston Girls Night Out” Facebook page to ensure you are in the loop; learn when tickets go on sale for the after party – tickets sell out almost instantly!

Festival of Trees_Steveston_Palla_MediaFestival of Trees
During the month of December enjoy a walk through an indoor forest of decorated Christmas trees when the Steveston Merchants Association partners with the Gulf of Georgia Cannery for the Festival of Trees. Steveston businesses personalize their trees with festive flair.

Steveston Village Christmas Horse CarriageChristmas in Steveston Village
To cap off the year, Christmas in Steveston Village puts holiday shoppers in the Christmas spirit. New this year, this special event has been split over two days, Sunday November 29 and December 6.

Car_Cruise_Steveston_Palla_MediaOn November 29 enjoy the charm of riding aboard an old-fashioned horse drawn carriage with festive music playing as the majestic team of horses clip clop along and loop the village. Visit local shops and do some Christmas shopping – it’s never too early to start. You will find unique gifts and as an added fringe benefit, you will feel good about having shopped locally and directly supported the community.

The 2nd annual Christmas Classic Car Show will parade through the village on December 6 at 12:15 p.m. then be on display until 3:00 p.m.

Santa_Steveston_Palla_MediaEvery year crowds of adoring fans line Fisherman’s Wharf for a glimpse of Santa as he arrives on December 6 on board a Vancouver Whale Watch boat with his entourage of elves. Free Santa hats are handed out (courtesy of the Steveston Merchants Association) while supplies last. It is a sight to see the village filled with red hats!

Follow Santa to the Cannery and take a photo of your child sitting on Santa’s lap.Then admire the Festival of Trees and shop at The Cannery Farmers’ Market. There may even be a little extra Christmas magic – stay tuned for details!

Pending Redevelopment Proposals

Sunday, September 20th, 2015

The Cat is out of the Bag!
Pending Redevelopment Proposals Will Reshape Steveston Village
Story by Sean Lawson. Photos by Sandra Steier.

Rods_Steveston_Insider_Palla_MediaIt’s now official: there is a pending redevelopment process underway for the Rod’s Building Supply site, located at the corner of Moncton Street and Third Avenue. The proposal envisions a mixed-use development with retail on the ground floor and residential above, consistent with the City’s Steveston Area Plan.

The retail includes plans for a “name brand” full service grocery store. The developer, Kyle Shury of Platform Properties, is a “born and raised Richmond lad” and a long-time Steveston resident. After working with Townline Homes for thirteen years, Shury ventured out on his own six years ago and Platform Properties now has projects scattered throughout the Lower Mainland and B.C.

Buck_Ear_Steveston_Insider_Palla_MediaPlatform Properties’ vision, along with the planned extensive renovation of the Steveston Hotel (now under new ownership and management) and the new construction on the old G&F Financial site, will kick start the revitalization of the northwest section of Steveston Village’s core.

Steveston_Hardware_Steveston_Insider_Palla_MediaOn the heels of these developments is the Steveston Marine & Hardware site on Moncton Street, which currently has a pending deal in play. These developments will help round out the shopping experience while keeping the Village core intact.

These big moves are not the only plans in the works for our Village; there are currently talks going on at City Hall, spearheaded by Councillor Harold Steves’ stated desire to expedite and make a reality of a much needed pleasure craft marina in Steveston Harbour. The current Mixed Maritime Use (MMU) zoning on Onni’s Bayview site directly in front of this marina will also be in demand when these marina plans are solidified. Steveston Marine & Hardware is already interested in leasing up to 6,000 square feet of the Bayview site, and other maritime related businesses are sure to follow. Yet for the past two years Onni has been embroiled in a proposed zoning change asking for 100 percent retail use for the site which would see these great opportunities dashed.

Onni_Steveston_Insider_Palla_MediaThe Steveston Merchants Association (SMA) had put forward a measured proposal that called for approximately one-third office space, one-third MMU and one-third retail use for the empty Bayview site.

As discussed in my last opinion piece for Steveston Insider, such a zoning mix would allow for the traditional shopping experience of Steveston Village to remain in place (without dragging retail uses eastward away from the Village core and into a residential area), as well as satisfy Onni’s desire to obtain a higher valued use for its land. Despite what I believe to have been both public and City support for the SMA proposal, Onni did not accept these ideas and again pushed forward for 100 percent retail use of the Bayview site.

Two years have passed and the facts have changed; with the aforementioned significant redevelopment of the northwest Village (including a grocery anchor and more retail space underway), the possibility of a pleasure craft marina and the eventual need to relocate Steveston Marine & Hardware, the demand and appropriateness of the Maritime Mixed Use zoning on the Bayview site needs to be acknowledged. The marina and development sites discussed in this article will go through extensive planning and public process prior to any concrete being poured. All residents and business owners will have plenty of opportunity to have input and there will be well-advertised public information meetings coming soon.

I feel the recommendation from the SMA with respect to the amount of MMU space at the Bayview site needs to be revisited. There is now a strong case to be made for retaining even more MMU space than previously recommended.

It should be noted too that there are uses other than retail that should be considered for any change from MMU at the Bayview site. A public library, a cultural museum, a fitness facility (public or private), a senior’s centre or daycare are just a few that would be welcome additions to the community by residents and businesses alike. Further, any “voluntary contributions” or “cash payments” made by Onni to the City with respect to any rezoning of the Bayview site should be earmarked for use in Steveston only. These funds could be used to help provide additional parking, renovate or rebuild our community centre, help fund our fledgling Business Improvement Area association, etc.

It is Steveston residents and businesses that must live with the consequences of this late-in-the-game zoning change Onni is after. I believe it’s a slippery slope to let a developer build out their project, let it sit vacant while demanding the highest valued use, and then grant their wishes after such practices.