The Downtown Rideau Business Improvement Area (DRBIA) positions the district as a “high street” destination for shopping, dining and culture under the brand “Ottawa’s Fashion, Arts & Theatre District”. The BIA manages a number of programs and promotions to support its brand, as well as represents the business community’s interests advocating for Downtown Rideau’s economic viability within the City of Ottawa.
Key initiatives include two award-winning programs: The Underpass outdoor urban performance and exhibit venue and Summer Fling – A Theatrical Affair! performing arts festival. In 2012 it developed Chill Factor -- Get out of the Cold, and into the Chill!, in partnership with Winterlude. The BIA’s Dinner & Show series has increased business for its dining partners by 20%, and the Downtown Patrol street ambassador program has assisted in providing directions and support to tourists, as well as assistance to street people requiring social services and support. The DRBIA is currently developing the Downtown Details maintenance program to address gaps in services and standards, and continues to deliver a high standard of decorative and pageantry elements to enhance and improve the public realm in Downtown Rideau.
Downtown Rideau is the trade name of the DRBIA - a 23-block area representing 475 businesses and organizations east of the Rideau Canal to King Edward Avenue; and south of the George Street to Mackenzie King Bridge. All properties within the BIA boundary are automatically members of the DRBIA and collectively contribute to over $22 million in taxes to the City's property tax base.
The BIA is permitted under Section 204 of the Ontario Municipal Act and municipal bylaw, which allows the city to designate an area as a BIA and create a Board of Management. The BIA has the authority to undertake initiatives on municipally owned land within the BIA - beyond those provided by the City. Its mandate is to promote a defined boundary as a distinct business district.
The BIA spearheads a number of initiatives that promote Downtown Rideau to the advantage of all the properties located within its boundary. Through the BIA, members become more involved and informed about plans and developments that affect them. These include issues such as property development, policies, policing, parking, bylaws, postering, traffic, and street maintenance. The BIA provides an advocacy role to its members by allowing the area to speak with a united voice on issues of common concern and interest, thereby increasing their influence at City Hall on policies that affect them.
The BIA also offers its members assistance through information and cooperation on marketing, consumer base and promotional partnerships. A quarterly newsletter informs members of events and happenings of interest in the area and is a vehicle through which businesses can submit articles describing initiatives they have undertaken.