South-side Thunder Bay business group needs more board members

Officials with the Fort William Business District in Thunder Bay, Ont., say they need more merchants in the area to sign up to sit on the business improvement association's board.

Vice chair Shelby Ch'ng says more participation needed

Shelby Ch'ng is the vice chair of the Fort William Business District BIA. (Kirthana Sasitharan/CBC)

Officials with the Fort William Business District in Thunder Bay, Ont., say they need more merchants in the area to sign up to sit on the business improvement association's board.

The board currently only has four members, three of whom sit on Thunder Bay city council, although vice chair Shelby Ch'ng said she's volunteering on the board as a business owner who rents shop space, not as a councillor. One property owner also sits on the board.

The board should have two councillors, four property owners and four entrepreneurs who don't own their retail space.

"We've actually only had four meetings this year where we actually had quorum," Ch'ng said, adding that the BIA meets once-per-month.

"We've been kind of struggling since the spring."

Ch'ng said the remaining board is drafting a letter to all landowners and tenants in the area about joining.

Board members have left over the past several months for a number of reasons, Ch'ng said, including businesses that have failed, illnesses and, in one case, when a member had a baby.

"We can't fault anybody and we can't fault people when businesses break down ... so, I mean, these things happen."

Still, Ch'ng said, she'd like to see more business owners participate. She said there are usually anywhere from 90 to 100 active businesses in the downtown south core area.

"I think if people want to be challenged, if they're interested in joining the board, this is the place to do it," she said.

"We get a lot of people talking about how terrible the south core is but if people own a business down there or a building, they're more than welcome to join us to help turn it around."