Kilbirnie business community votes for a change

7 October 2015

Kilbirnie businesses and commercial property owners will be looking to follow the successes of its neighbour Miramar after a poll result returned 64% of the vote in support of a Business Improvement District (BID) proposal.

A pink Robyn Mathieson storefront in Kilbirnie.

The Robyn Mathieson store in Kilbirnie

Once the BID is approved, Wellington City Council collects a targeted rate from all commercial property owners in the area. The amount collected is then provided to the business association that has been set up to work on the area’s behalf, to fund agreed objectives. 

Councillor Simon Marsh, the Council’s Small Medium Enterprise Portfolio Leader, says the poll result will be a huge boost to improving the business district of Kilbirnie. 

“The Council has been supporting this BID proposal, so it’s good to see it heading in the right direction – and we hope other business communities follow suit,” says Cr Marsh. 

“Suburban centres in Wellington have so much to offer, but sometimes they just need a helping hand, and to recognise that collectively they can achieve so much more.” 

A poll to gauge support for a new targeted rate to fund the Business Improvement District (BID) closed last week. Thirty-four percent of the 209 eligible voters took part, and 64 percent of those supported the plan – a result that meets the criteria for approval under the Council’s Business Improvement District Policy. For a BID to be approved under the policy, at least 25 percent of those eligible to take part need to vote and a majority of those must be in favour. 

Convener of the Kilbirnie BID steering group, Unichem Kilbirnie Pharmacy director Geoff Kiddle, has owned the business for 13 years, but it was a comment from a local that really got him motivated to push for some changes in the neighbourhood. 

“I was giving an elderly customer a ride home one night, and he said Kilbirnie has to hit the refresh button – and that really summed it up for me,” says Geoff. 

“It’s been really great working with the Council, who have been really helpful, and now we need to take the next steps which include adopting a constitution, getting a Board together, and drafting up documents. I’ve been surprised by who’s supported this and there are lot of exciting ideas from them, so it won’t just be me anymore.” 

Local business owner, clothing designer Robyn Mathieson, is also looking forward to some improvements in the neighbourhood. 

“I’ve been here for six months and there is a real mix of visitors who come to the area for lots of reasons. There are some speciality shops, but also dance studios, and lots of take-away outlets,” she says. 

“I’d like to see the township grow. There are quite a few empty stores, so it would be great to get them filled up with new and interesting businesses – and to get some more flavour into the area.” 

BIDs are working well elsewhere in the country, and locally at Miramar, Khandallah, and at Marsden Village in Karori.

BIDs are a way for local businesses to pool funds for projects and improvements that complement existing Council services. The Council can provide advice and also has grants funding available to help establish BIDs.