City councillors raised concerns as more information was given to them on Monday night about the creation of a Business Improvement District (BID). 

Saskatchewan Economic Development Alliance has an outline of nine steps to establish a BID. These steps include: 

  1. Establish the need or a business case 
  2. Communicate with all interested parties 
  3. Establish a steering committee 
  4. Establish goals and objectives 
  5. Prepare preliminary budget proposals 
  6. Establish proposed boundaries 
  7. Formalize a request to the Municipality 
  8. Notify of a proposed BID designation 
  9. Pass a Municipal bylaw 

Acting Director of Strategic Growth Craig Hemingway told city council that, to various degrees, steps one through seven have been taken by the Downtown Moose Jaw Association. 

Hemingway also gave examples of what other municipalities are doing for BIDs. Regina has eight employees and is funded through a levy assessed on commercial properties within the boundary. Saskatoon has five employees and is funded through a levy and they receive one per cent of on-street parking revenues for specific beautification efforts.  

Prince Albert has a part-time executive director. They are funded through a levy and operational grant funds from the city. As an example, in 2024, the Prince Albert Downtown BID received $78,000 in levies and $40,000 from the city grant. 

Yorkton’s BID also has a part-time executive director. It was funded through a levy plus a matching grant from the city. 

Looking outside of the province, Brandon just resurrected their downtown business group in 2024. The city is basing the establishment of a BID on the downtown group signing up 75 members. It would be funded through membership packages based on the size of the business. 

Hemingway said there were a number of options Moose Jaw’s BID could take in receiving stable funding. One is a tax levy based on a percentage of the business’s taxable assessment value. He did note that it would come at a cost to the city. 

“Note that our Department of Finance estimates that it might cost $30,000 for any tax system modifications that we would have to make to accommodate the implementation of such a tax levy,” Hemingway said. 

Another option is a flat BID fee for properties within the boundaries regardless of size. Grant funding for city council is a possibility as a general revenue stream. 

The BID could receive revenue from a percentage of the parking meters, similar to what is done in Saskatoon. However, the city would not be able to raise parking meter rates. 

“(We) should note as well it’s not possible for us to raise parking rates here in the City of Moose Jaw unless we were to make a significant investment in replacing the parking meter heads,” Hemingway said. 

Other funding sources could be third-party grants and memberships. 

Coun. Heather Eby said, as a board member with DMJA, the report had all the information she was looking for, but she feels each side is waiting for the other to make a formal request. 

Coun. Dawn Luhning agreed, saying the final decision needs to come from the downtown association. 

“They do need the buy-in from the businesses and as a councillor, and I can’t speak for my other six colleagues, but I’m not going to sit here and say ‘Oh yeah, I’m going to lev the businesses in the Downtown Commercial District to start a BID, and it’s going to be whatever the number is.’ That isn’t going to be me that’s going to do that,” Luhning said. 

Creating a BID is a significant decision, said Coun. Crystal Froese, and she would like the downtown association to have open communication with all businesses within the proposed boundary so that everyone is on board. 

“This is proposing a levy on these businesses and that’s a not a little thing to do and I think businesses would need to have a much more in-depth conversation about what that looks like for them and then, of course, what are they going to get out of that,” Froese said. 

Moose Jaw has had BIDs in the past in the downtown core. BIDs in various forms have been in Moose Jaw since the early 1980s that helped drive a lot of enhancements we see today like the old-style light poles. That being said, a significant amount of funding came from the now-defunct Heritage Canada Main Street Program. 

In a report to city council in 2002, former city councilllor Walt Yakiwchuk said provincial funding halted in the early 1990s and constraints on the municipal budget left the BID budget with $17,500 in municipal grants. 

The last Downtown Business Improvement District in Moose Jaw was dissolved in 2010.