The Board of Cobourg’s Downtown Business Improvement Area (DBIA) reported to their members last night at their Annual General Meeting (AGM). There were about a dozen members (downtown business owners) in the audience and although they had some concerns, it seemed that the DBIA is in better shape than a year ago. The board was new at the start of 2017 (see link below to access list of members) and stable. There were no resignations or criticism of board members. In fact, Council representative Deputy Mayor John Henderson said that the board was “Cobourg’s most improved committee” and that he had “never seen so much cooperation between the Town and the DBIA”. Mayor Gil Brocanier, who was in the audience, endorsed John’s remarks.
Each Board member gave a report and each was open to questions and comments from their members.
Highlights of Reports
A detailed report was provided that showed actuals to Nov 14, the 2017 budget, the 2016 budget and actuals and the 2018 budget.
The main source of income is the Town of Cobourg Tax Levy (2017 $167K; 2018 $171.6k) although the total income for 2017 is $170.4K.
Expense YTD actual sub-totals
|General and Admin||$13,104|
|Special Events and Marketing||$73,768|
|Beautification and Maintenance||$31,308|
|Business Dev/Member Services||$41|
The budget for 2018 is generally in line with 2017 actuals except that more will be spent on Banners and less on Maintenance and Repair. The Beautification and Maintenance expenses included the Christmas lights at $9.4K and “Flowers” at $5k (a bargain). A couple of one-time “Investments” were made in 2017: 1) $6k for an electrical panel on Second Street to provide power for vendors (on East Side of Victoria Hall) and 2) some money to improve the King Street sound system. Event announcers can connect to it to save the cost of renting PA systems.
The biggest Budget item was Marketing – Theresa Rickerby has a sub-committee working on marketing and helping organize special events. Marketing costs included the costs of special events, advertising and marketing materials. She said that the new DBIA logo (at right) was developed at no cost and she wants everyone to use it freely. There are no copyright restrictions. There will also be more use of banners in future and the DBIA is working with Tourism and Economic Development to develop videos for marketing.
Theresa said: “It’s going to be a great year!”
The special events chair is Rino Ferreri and he was able to announce the events for 2018:
- February 24 – Pub Crawl (a new event – may not be official name)
- May 11- Girls’ night out
- June 9 – Busker Festival (no longer on Highland Games weekend)
- July 7 – Food Festival
- August 2 to 5 – 50th Annual Sidewalk Sale
- August 25 – Art Walk
- September 29 – Harvest Festival (may include Butter Tart Festival)
- November 23 & 24 – Christmas Event
Rino emphasised that he wants events to be good for all vendors not just some of them. This includes finding a way to help members east of Division.
It was suggested that a butter tart festival would possibly draw huge crowds – this was done in Oshawa and drew 10,000 visitors.
Many board members mentioned that there was good communication and cooperation with the Town but improvements are still required. The departure of Tourism Events Coordinator Lara Scott caused difficulties until the arrival of her replacement Jackie Chapman Davis. There were also problems early in the year because the board and DBIA Coordinator Paige Montgomery were starting from scratch. In many cases, there was not enough lead time to arrange vendors or performers for events. These problems should not exist in 2018 – especially since the schedule of events has now been decided and Paige and Jackie are now up to speed.
Although communication with the Town is now working well, and members know about events, communication to members needs to be improved about what the board is doing in addition to organizing events.
If Downtown Vitalization was mentioned it was only in passing although John Henderson did talk about the CIP program and that it would be continued in 2018.