Donna has led the BIA for the past 5 years. Established in 2013, the BIA is now in the second year of its renewed 5-year mandate. It began through a concerted effort from local business owners. They felt that the Sidney core was suffering and lacking vibrancy.
So, they got together and laid the groundwork for a business improvement area. As Donna relates, the priority for the BIA is “to increase footsteps in Sidney.”
With a background in tourism, primarily hotel marketing and management, Donna also is on the board of directors of the Greater Victoria Film Commission and has worked as a location scout.
Donna and I share a similar feeling about the potential of Sidney and the Saanich Peninsula. She calls it the “best untold story,” and she works to position Sidney as a great place for locals and tourists alike.
The BIA is one of 55 in British Columbia, and 8 on Vancouver Island. Its geographic boundaries are from Highway 17, east to the shoreline and from Bevan Avenue north to Sidney Avenue.
It promotes like-minded businesses in the downtown Sidney community. They are mainly in the service sector consisting of hospitality, food & beverage and retail outlets.
Supporting Downtown Sidney
Governed by an 11-member board, the BIA is funded by a levy applied to all the commercial properties within the boundary. The levy is collected through property taxes and based on each property’s assessed value. Donna is currently their only employee. She works half-time as the Executive Director and half-time as the Event Liaison/Facilitator.
In recent months Sidney has hosted two major sporting events – Surf Canada’s Stand-up Paddle Board National Championships and the World Rowing Coastal Championships showcasing the Town to the world.
Sidney is the commercial hub of the Saanich Peninsula. As Donna eloquently explains, “it provides an authentic experience and beautiful backdrop for people to shop mindfully at local owner-operated businesses.”
But Donna does not do it completely alone. The BIA manages the Sidney tourist information booth across from the Mary Winspear Centre. Morgan Shaw and 75 volunteers helped 40,000 visitors in 2018 plan their stay in Sidney and the Saanich Peninsula.