BIA moves home, eventful times ahead

A little over six months ago, the Morrisburg Business Improvement Area hired their first non-member as a coordinator, and this month, for the first time, they opened an independent office in the Morrisburg Plaza.

The office, located at 99 Main Street Morrisburg (beside Bo’s Barbershop) was generously donated to the Municipality of South Dundas by local lawyer Doug Grenkie. It was donated for the purpose of housing a public washroom facility.

The BIA decided that the washroom project fits nicely with the work of the BIA, and gives the organization the opportunity to have a standalone space.

The idea of a public washroom in the Morrisburg Plaza has been floated for several years. With the land donation, and the BIA involvement, it is coming much closer to becoming reality. 

However, as of yet, there is no specific plan or time-line available for that project.

“What we needed first was a location,” said Grace McDonough, coordinator for the Morrisburg BIA. “Now that we have this location, we are working at applying for funding.”

The plan is to install one fully accessible public washroom in the space adjacent to the newly established and renovated office.

So far, little has been done to the space, as the washroom will require extensive changes to the area, and likely a relocation of the door to meet provincial accessibility requirements.

Several years ago, fund raising was done for a washroom facility for the Morrisburg plaza, as a South Dundas Chamber of Commerce initiative, carried out in partnership with the Morrisburg and District Lions Club, and fundraising matched by the Morrisburg Scotiabank. The $8,100 raised through those efforts, will go to the BIA in support of the washroom project.

While the washroom project is an important priority for the BIA in its new home, it is one of many initiatives the BIA will be involved in this year.

When McDonough was hired in 2013, it was just on the heels of a successful Antiquefest, which was done in partnership with the South Dundas Chamber.

This year, the BIA, with a committee of BIA members and community members will take on organization of the 2014 Antiquefest alone. Learning from observations and input from last year’s vendors, McDonough says this year, all of the vendors will be in tents in mall courtyard behind the clocktower, or a section of the parking lot that will be cordoned off for the summer event slated for July 19 and 20. “We plan to grow the event this year,” said McDonough.

In McDonough’s first year as coordinator, she participated in a number of pumpkin-themed events including spooky tales, pumpkin carving and window decorating and baking contests, and the BIA plans for many of those to return again this fall. Last Christmas, in addition to the seasonal decorations that adorn the Morrisburg Plaza, courtesy of the BIA, they were joined by the Seaway Valley Singers for carolling in the plaza, held a window decorating contest for its members and turkey draws for Plaza patrons.

“All of this is like nothing I’ve ever done before. I brought a basic skill set to this job, and have been learning a lot along the way. With so many great ideas, and lots of feedback from our members, I’m looking forward to applying what I have learned,” said McDonough. While looking forward to having a role in these returning events, McDonough anticipates some new initiatives to the plaza.

The Municipality of South Dundas has been setting aside funds for a revitalization of the Morrisburg Plaza, and the BIA is looking forward to having input into that project.

The BIA is continuing to work at various ways to promote the plaza, including advertising, promotions and events, more than just hosting its own events, McDonough hopes to be able to make the plaza a stop on established regional events and tours. Additional attractions such as an expanded farmer’s market are in the works. The BIA is interested in making the mall court yard more welcoming to visitors, by adding seating and bicycle racks. 

“Not only would it give visitors a place to rest, it could also be a gathering place to sit outdoors and enjoy lunch,” said McDonough.  “It’s just part of being welcoming community. The tourist season here is a short season, so we want to help our businesses.” 

The Morrisburg Business Improvement Area consists of the geographic area of the Morrisburg Village Plaza. It is funded through a levy, administered by the municipality. The president of the Morrisburg BIA is Bill Ewing. The position is appointed by the municipality for the term of council. There are more than 240 BIAs across the province. BIAs have many functions including overseeing area improvements, promoting the area and advocating on behalf of the interests of the business improvement area. 

The primary responsibility of the coordinator is to assist the board in implementing revitalization and promotion strategy, as directed by the board, while serving as a link between the board and the BIA members, as well as coordinating the activities of committees, community groups and volunteers.

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