Bowraville proposed for Community Improvement Districts program

After hours security patrol is one possible way that levies on local businesses may be spent under the Community Improvement Districts (CID) program.

NAMBUCCA Valley Councillors have voted to receive the draft Bill and Guide to ‘Community Improvement Districts’ and to receive a report into the viability of proposing Bowraville for this initiative.

Community Improvement Districts (CID), also known as Business Improvement Districts (BID) have been installed throughout various countries of the world since the first one was established in 1970 in Toronto, Canada.

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A CID is a place-based partnership between local government and the community, led by local businesses, to support and grow local economies, town centres and main streets.

Currently there are thousands such districts across the USA, Canada, the UK and Germany.

In 2022, Transport for NSW released a White Paper on BIDs and further outlined the next steps to their introduction in February 2023.

The name BID was changed to CID and the CID Pilot program is now underway, with stage two of the application process closing last year.

The successful applicants were expected to be announced in April. .

According to Transport for NSW the Pilot Program defines a District as “a geographically distinct micro-area (e.g., a high street or block of streets) that has a unique identity and diverse cultural and entertainment offerings across multiple venues within short walking or biking distance. A district is not an entire suburb.”

Evidence of support by and consultation with the business community needs to be collected including “letters of support or no objection from at least five participating entities”.

The process of installing a CID typically involves greater than 50 percent of economic representatives in a local area petitioning the relevant Local Government to establish a CID.

The format of the CID then is that applicable businesses pay a levy to a private, not-for-profit organisation which uses the money to improve the area’s attractiveness.

Some notable criticisms have been made of this model.

For example, the introduction of a levy to businesses could make everything more expensive with the effect that smaller businesses are priced out of an area.

The organisation British BIDs, which represents BIDs in the UK, explains on its website that although they are usually implemented in cities, there is a large amount of flexibility in the shape and form these mechanisms can take.

“Businesses decide and direct what they want in their area.

“Businesses are represented and have a voice in issues affecting their trading area,” claims British BID.

However, there is a growing backlash against the practice in the UK where a recent article in the Guardian claims there are dozens of cases of people across the UK refusing to make the mandatory payments and ending up in the courts.

One organisation active in opposition to the model in the UK is Against BID, which describes the system as ‘undemocratic’ and ‘an unnecessary stealth tax on hardworking businesses’.

Others say cash-strapped local businesses are being required to make up the shortfall in fields where traditionally state and local governments held responsibility such as policing or the cleanliness of streets.


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