The Gananoque Business Improvement Area is trying to get its house in order before the new year.
The BIA was floundering and given an ultimatum by Gananoque Town Council or risk being dissolved.
At the regular meeting of Council held September 20, the BIA was asked to do four things prior to December 31: organize and hold their Annual General Meeting; nominate and elect their Board of Management and advise the Town accordingly; provide the Town with a copy of the amended BIA constitution; provide the Town with a copy of their current income statement. Failure to provide any one would result in the town abandoning the BIA pursuant to the Municipal Act.
Mayor Erika Demchuk said that the BIA was given the chance to rectify the situation during the summer, but that did not happen. The town had hoped that things would be settled by the fall but things were getting worse. Something needed to be done to get things working again.
“It is the hope of the Town that the BIA will not fail, but to work it has to function properly. So hopefully by giving them this ultimatum it will put a fire under them to get their act together. Things will hopefully fall into place and they can move on,” she said.
Being self-employed means you have to be a leader said Debra Savoy, owner of a downtown used bookstore – All About Books – for 12 years. She feels there are some major issues in the BIA and has had enough of the current situation.
“There is too much small town politics. There are a lot of people who have a long history together and if that history is not good then anybody new coming in ends up being pulled in all directions,” she said.
Professionalism is also a bone of contention with Savoy: she feels that some business owners act in an unprofessional manner and that reflects badly on everyone.
“In every small town the BIA struggles- – but to this extent it’s almost as if it has to be dissolved and rebuilt. There has to be more outside input, and our leader cannot be somebody in the downtown core. It has to be somebody completely neutral that can carry the meetings and follow through with everything, ” said Savoy.
Maria Pinard, Store Manager at Donevan’s Hardware, is the current President of the BIA. She took over when Jan Gravelle left the position in May. She said the BIA has been hard at work recently. It has hired an administrative assistant, Sue McDermid, and a bookkeeper, Joe McCauley, and are working on scheduling a date for the AGM.
Pinard said she had no problem with the ultimatum given by council because she believes they only want to help. She added that in order for the BIA to succeed everyone must work together.
“They want us to succeed. The BIA is working with the town to make it work, and we really do have the support of the town,” she said.
Since the BIA has been focusing on meeting the requirements, Pinard said that people have come forward and expressed interest in becoming involved in the organization.
“It could be amazing, I can see it happening. It is all coming together,” she said.
Kathrine Christensen of the 1000 Islands Accommodation Partners also was optimistic the BIA was on the right track and has been in contact with the organization to give any help she can.
“I think that they are back on track and they will come back strong,” said Christensen recently. “Theyare a great organization. I think people should just take a breath, have a little faith, and hold on. Anybody that is able to help them should be helping them. They will be all right.”