A bid to stop the appointment of members to the Belleville Downtown Improvement Area resulted in a lengthy debate at city council Monday night.
Councillor Mitch Panciuk, the city’s member on the BDIA board, expressed concern that half the board members had resigned since the beginning of the year and he said downtown members want a general meeting with a new election.
Board chair Dwane Barrett told Quinte News people were just “disgruntled” and just didn’t like the outcome of the election.
Councillor Egerton Boyce said it was a “fair democratic process” and he “hated to see this brought up to tarnish volunteers.”
Councillor Paul Carr warned the DBIA that the city was spending $34 million on the downtown and “the old way doing business is done. Every taxpayer outside of the downtown is watching.” He said the DBIA should hold more events to draw people downtown.
In a recorded vote of 5 to 4 council rejected Panciuk’s motion to seek legal advice.
Councillor Panciuk said what gets lost in this is that the rules for both the city and the BDIA are there to protect individual members and there’s a reason why those members need to be protected.
He said “I think a general meeting would have been the perfect way to clear the air, to have whoever gets elected then move forward with a mandate, unfortunately that’s not going to happen.”
Council then approved the eight new members to the BDIA board.
Earlier, Barratt had reported to council that the board is setting a new course to build on the success of the completion of most of the revitalization of the downtown. He pointed to the $250,000 funding for street lighting in the downtown and $40,000 for cameras in the city centre.
He said the DBIA is working on having an event every month to draw people to the downtown. Savour the Chill will be held Saturday, February 25.
Barratt said there is a concern regarding statistics gathered by a consultant that show a 24% vacancy rate and the percentage of women shoppers is lower than in other areas. He said parking is still an issue in drawing people downtown.