Top: Natalie Olsen, right, from Skinny’s on 48th, accepted a business award from former Downtown Lloydminster BID board member Rob Anderson for Indoor Renovation at the organization’s final annual general meeting on March 28. GEOFF LEE LLS PHOTO
The Downtown Lloydminster Business Improvement District (BID) has come to a dead end over the realization it lacked the resources and authority to effect material improvements to the downtown core.
BID members voted 19-2 in favour of dissolving the board of directors and transition into an advisory committee to the city’s Downtown Area Revitalization Plan (DARP) during their final annual general meeting on March 28.
“It feels like we’ve been spinning our wheels for a long time—we’re moving into the unknown, but change is good,” said former BID board chair and business owner Jon Rokochy after the vote.
“I think the city is the only one that’s got the real authority to effect real lasting, big, visible change that all of us in Lloydminster want to see downtown.”
Rokochy said some of the next steps are working with city administration and council to define the advisory committee and transition quickly so some of the key downtown events like Streetfest in June don’t get interrupted.
Startup Lloydminster (formerly the regional business accelerator) is also extending their administration contract with BID to help with the transition.
Rokochy said the board’s biggest fear in deciding to become an advisor for the city was losing their voice as property owners and business owners downtown.
“The reality is the city is saying they are going to set up an advisory committee in the DARP that gives the property owners and business owners and community members the opportunity to sit on that and advise to the city and have our voice heard,” he said.
The city approved DARP in the 2018 capital budget as Phase 2 of a multi-year redevelopment plan started in 2014.
Council expects to approve a Request for Proposal in April from a consultant to develop DARP as a statutory document that outlines achievable objectives to guide and bring about future investments in the city’s core.
“The intent of the Dart is to develop downtown Lloydminster as a community, economic and social hub downtown with viability and commercial success, a downtown which is an asset to residents, enticing to tourists and stimulates new investment in business and industry,” said Don Stang, the city’s executive manager of community services.
Stang told the AGM the plan will require a variety of stakeholders including the downtown Lloydminster advisory committee.
Rokochy said the decision to dissolve the board was a long time in making and a tough one to make.
“Our board is made up of property owners, business owners, people who care about, who love downtown and want to see it grow and thrive,” he said.
“We want to see the vacant buildings filled; we want to see it beautified; we want to see facade improvement; we want to see nicer sidewalks; we want it to be safer for pedestrians—there’s a lot of ideas and dreams our board has for downtown.”
Rokochy explained there has been many barriers from moving ahead the in last couple of decades on a limited budget and the minimal authority the board had.
“The reality is our board has been trying to do things that are well beyond our scope of influence, our scope of authority, our resources and time in effort, in money, so the move today was a real step forward in partnering and working more closely with the city,” he said.
In other AGM news, three downtown business improvement awards were handed out including the Indoor Renovation award, presented to Skinny’s on 48th.
The Trophy Gallery picked up an award for a Seasonal/Theme window display, while the Lloydminster Power and Leisure Centre received an award for New Building or Addition.