The Downtown Rideau Business Improvement Area (D.R.B.I.A.) positions the district as a high street destination for shopping, dining and culture under the brand “Ottawa’s Fashion, Arts & Theatre District”. The D.R.B.I.A. 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.
Downtown Rideau is the trade name of the D.R.B.I.A. — a 53-block area representing 600 businesses and organizations east of the Rideau Canal to King Edward Avenue; and south of ByWard Market from George Street to Mackenzie King Bridge. All properties within the B.I.A. boundary are automatically members of the D.R.B.I.A. and collectively contribute to over $22 million in taxes to the City’s property tax base.
The D.R.B.I.A. 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 D.R.B.I.A. has the authority to undertake initiatives on municipally owned land within the D.R.B.I.A. — beyond those provided by the City. Its mandate is to promote a defined boundary as a distinct business district.
The D.R.B.I.A. spearheads a number of initiatives that promote Downtown Rideau to the advantage of all the properties located within its boundary. Through the B.I.A. 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 B.I.A. 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 D.R.B.I.A. also offers its members assistance through information and cooperation on marketing, consumer base and promotional partnerships. A bi-annual 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.
Key initiatives include two award-winning programs: The Underpass, an outdoor urban performance and exhibit venue, and Chill Factor — Get out of the Cold, and into the Chill! — in partnership with Winterlude.
- Dinner & Show promotions have increased business for dining partners by up to 20%.
- The Downtown Rideau Street Ambassadors program provides directions and support to tourists, as well as assistance to street people requiring social services and support.
- The Heave a Heart Give Smart panhandling awareness program provides an option to giving to services that directly help the homeless, rather than directly to individuals on the street.
- The Downtown Rideau Street Details maintenance program responds to gaps in municipal services and to providing a clean and inviting district through poster and graffiti removal services, litter collection, featured lighting and flower planting.
- The D.R.B.I.A. also sponsors many festivals and events held in Downtown Rideau with infrastructure and promotional support and provides a high standard of decorative and pageantry elements to enhance the public realm experience in Downtown Rideau.