Chamber of Commerce seeks a rent reduction for itself and the other members of Team Burlington

By Pepper Parr

June 10th, 2024



Terry Caddo, president and chief executive officer the Burlington Chamber of Commerce appeared before Council representing the Chamber, the Burlington Downtown Business Association, Burlington Economic Development and Tourism.

Terry Caddo, president and chief executive officer the Burlington Chamber of Commerce

The four organizations are housed on the second floor of 441 Locust Street. The have been co-located at that address, next to the parking garage  for over 20 years. They are described as Team Burlington.

They were advised recently that they are required to pay “market rate rents” and want a reduction from the market rate.

Caddo, explained that as a not for profit organization, they generate the bulk of their revenue.  A rent increase would mean less for the services they deliver to the commercial/services community in the city.

Secondly, the co-location of Team Burlington members serves a crucial purpose. It creates collision opportunities, generating synergy and efficiency. It is essential for all of us to remain near one another, to effectively coordinate our efforts and maximize impact.

In the last week alone, we’ve had a new chamber member who’s looking to open a new restaurant in Burlington, and we’re able to connect them to Economic Development and direct them to the Aldershot area. WE ARE  looking forward to a new Thai restaurant coming into Aldershot, which would never happen without our collision opportunities and getting to know each other better.

Additionally, in two weeks, we’re going to have a restarted Bay Area Economic Summit, where the Chamber, along with Economic Development, will host the Premier, the mayor of Burlington and  the mayor of Hamilton, to talk about the size of the economy in Burlington. This wouldn’t happen without our collision opportunities and being co located.

I’m asking you, on behalf of my colleagues to support our request for a rent reduction.  By doing so, you will continue Mayor Malkovich and subsequent Council’s vision to reinforce a thriving, collaborative and inclusive Burlington.

The Chamber of Commerce doesn’t appear to have any financial pressures. Half a million for a staff of five. Office space + less than $80,000. These are 2022 end of year numbers.

There were no questions.  The request would be taken up later in the meeting.

The motion memorandum regarding the lease rate reduction came from Councillor Sharman who had sent his regrets and wasn’t attending the meeting.  Councillor Galbraith moved the item and spoke to it.

Kelvn Galbraith, Councillor Ward 2

It’s all in the report, but it’s basically rate reduction to keep those Team Burlington members in that facility.  As Terry Caddo  spoke to it, there is lots of additional benefits to having them working together; collisioning, is the way he put it, is very beneficial to their organizations. We do not want them looking elsewhere throughout the city and splitting up our team. So this is a way to keep the nonprofits in there and working together. So the rest of it’s in the report in the motion. If you have any questions, ask away. There were no questions on the motion.

Mayor Meed Ward commented: first of all, I want to thank staff and Emily Cote and her team for bringing this creative idea forward. We do have nonprofit group rates in a number of our facilities so it really does follow an existing policy. And as Councillor Galbraith said, this will allow our folks to remain co located, but also in a downtown location which would normally go for a premium rate. So we want them close and they we want them there, and they do great work for us. So this reduction will actually allow them to deploy additional resources right back into the community, doing the work that we couldn’t provide.

Lisa Kearns, Councillor ward 2

Councillor Kearns had a question for the finance staff. “I wanted to be sure  I understood the funding piece. So the reduced rate, for the qualifying not for profit, is $25,000.  Will this cost be reported at the end of the year in the annual variance surplus disposition. Is the $25,000 an annual cost, or is that the remainder of the year budgetary impact that will be reflected in the variance or surplus disposition.

Finance staff reported that is an annual cost. So we would anticipate six months impact in 2024 and it would need to be built into our 2025 budget.

Kearns: Will this come in under a budget motion memo or a budget line.

Finance Staff: It would be an adjustment, if you’re approving it here today, we would automatically build that into the 2025 budget. Okay?

The actual rent amounts to $2083 per month is that split between the four organizations?

Councillor Bentivegna said he was aware of the Motion and would normally want to see it coming at budget time for the following year, in this particular case, seeing that it is a business operation in the city, a very large business operation that attracts new business, and it is vital for us to continue to increase our employment program here, especially moving forward with the growth going on. So I do support this moving forward. I’m not going to say it’s not a lot of money, because every nickel counts. And in this case, tourism dollars will be created. Hotel dollars will be created, which give us more funding as well. And from an employment standpoint, BDC, working with Chamber of Commerce and Tourism, is a great fit, and has been for many, many, many years, and I think that’s one of the reasons why I’m supporting it. So thank you for that.

There were no further questions or comments; they turned to the vote – a simple show of hands, all those in favour, any opposed, seeing none that does carry unanimously.

It will go to Council later in the month.

What wasn’t clear is – does the reduction apply to just the not for profit organizations – or are they all not for profit  organizations.

What this appears to amount to is the city collecting rent from not for profits that are doing work the city is unable to do?  Right?

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2 comments to Chamber of Commerce seeks a rent reduction for itself and the other members of Team Burlington

  • Graham

    So true Stephen.On top of that Burlington now has very little land for industrial attraction now that the Paletta land at Upper Middle and Burloak has been converted to housing.Great plan eh?
    What I see being built is massive warehousing with few employees and no manufacturing!.I don’t think that there is one counsellor who knows anything about economic development .

  • Stephen White

    “Collision opportunities”. Ah yes: the latest corporate buzzword.

    Networking is about the only thing Team Burlington or the Chamber manages to achieve. Results, not so much. Where are all the new businesses? Where are all the major high tech companies moving into Burlington? Who knows. But we have an increasing number of businesses closing, and vacant plants. Hmm.

    St. Thomas gets the VW battery plant. Windsor gets the Stellantis battery plant. Alliston gets the Honda battery plant. Even poor forgotten little Port Colborne down there in the southern depths of Niagara gets a battery plant. Where’s ours? For that matter, where is any major manufacturing operation opening in Burlington. Answer: nowhere. But we have great networking opportunities….oops….sorry…..”collision opportunities”.

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