New BDIA chair downplays differences, stresses moving forward
While there may be differences of opinion about how to get there business owners in downtown Belleville remain committed to continued growth in the core, the new chair of the BDIA insists.
Dwayne Barrett of Barratt’s Office Pro was elected chair of the Belleville Downtown Improvement Association this week after serving several years on the board. Former chair Edie Hausler announced earlier this year she would not be seeking another term.
Barrett said his number one priority is to get some new businesses into the core.
“There are lots of vacant buildings down here,” he said. “I don’t know what the solution is but we have to carry on and revitalize the core.
“We have just had two big projects to fix the downtown and Phase 3 starts on Bridge Street this year, so we have to keep moving forward.”
Barrett was voted in for president over downtown newcomer Kathryn Brown of Kate’s Kitchen. Paul Dinkle was acclaimed vice chair and Jamie Troke was acclaimed treasurer. The board is revisiting the secretary position as only one person was nominated and she turned it down.
Barrett acknowledged there were some differences of opinion about how the group should move forward.
A recent string of Facebook comments showed at least a few downtown business owners are not happy with the status quo, with one posting: “First step – disband the BDIA.”
Another post said: “Potential opportunities curtailed by a few at the expense of the collective. Near sighted and no vision,” while a third suggested the executive needed to “Start driving the bus instead of sitting in the seats.”
Barrett said he hadn’t seen the thread, but said he knew some people were unhappy that different choices weren’t made.
However, he insisted for the most part all business owners wanted the same thing, they just had different views of how to get there.
“For the most point everyone in the core wants the same thing – to see it grow,” he said. “But the BDIA is the same as any organization with a lot of people in it, some of them are sometimes going to be unhappy.”
The organization is also advertising for a new executive director. Former executive director Karen Parker, who was off for a year on maternity leave, has left for another position. Interim director Erica Holgate took a job in Kingston in August.
Information about the position is available on the BDIA website under news and updates.
Unlike the past few years, this position is being looked at as part time rather than full time.
Barrett acknowledged that was unusual, but said it was a decision of the board. He noted the board has cut its administration budget to move money to promotion and beautification.
“We may have to change course, depending on the applications,” he said.
At its annual general meeting, the BDIA also agreed to upgrade the security cameras in the downtown.
Barrett said the existing cameras were not 360 degree view, but rather swung in an arc, meaning they often missed things.
“The new ones should be a lot better,” he said.
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