Focusing on bringing people downtown and lobbying government for resources to solve the problems are on the mind of the new head of the Downtown Timmins BIA board of management.
Cory Robin, who is also a Ward 5 councillor, was elected as president of the BIA board in December. He replaces Jamie Roach, who stepped down late last year after over eight years on the board of management.
"I enjoyed my time with the BIA, we accomplished much and weathered the storm that was/is COVID," said Roach.
"I had the honour of working with two amazing (executive directors) who made my job as president that much easier. I have been downtown since 2006, in three different locations and my passionate support remains. It has however evolved, and it was time for me to step back and let someone new lead the organization."
With Cindy Campbell leaving her position as executive director last year for a new opportunity, the organization is still trying to fill that role.
Roach is helping with that process.
“One of the things we asked Jamie to do when he resigned as chair was to just kind of see us through the selection process by helping us with the HR side because that’s really his expertise,” said Robin.
While the job was posted last year, it has yet to be filled.
“We’re facing the same labour shortage that everybody else is. Apparently, all the people who have the qualities we’re looking for are already employed. We’re seeing the exact same challenges as every other person who is hiring, there’s just not enough people, there’s not enough of a pool to do it. So we’ve reposted and we’re going to try again,” he said.
What does it take to be the executive director?
It's largely a public position, said Robin.
"So we’re looking for someone who’s not afraid to step out into the spotlight and be the contact point for so many people downtown and also lead the organization. The BIA tends to lead the conversations downtown and we need someone who’s good at that role. A lot of the other skills, they’re all trainable, it’s just we’re looking for that personality, that person who stands above the rest,” he said.
Right now it's a quiet period for the BIA.
Campbell helped the organization through the holiday pop-up shop, Santa Claus parade and holiday fun day.
"As far as events go it’s not impacting anything yet, but we hope to have a new executive director in time for the spring so that we can get on to our summer schedule,” he said.
In Robin's new role, he wants to really focus on the BIA's core mandate to bring people downtown.
And explain to the membership and explain to the city that the BIA’s focus is to promote the businesses, promote what’s going on, find events to have people come down. For example, the pop up shop, find events to have people come down. For example, the pop-up shop had 1,000 people on a Saturday when they would never have come down,” he said.
The BIA, said Robin, is not a government agency, police force or social service.
"We don’t have the resources to solve the problems, but what we can do is we can look and try to find solutions to lobby the people who do. So as the board chair, I’m trying to find input and resources that I can then as a councillor bring to council and say these are some ideas that the BIA and the membership want to do, how can we make it work?" he said.
"The BIA can’t solve the problem of homelessness, but the city can. The BIA can help with some resources or some ideas or communication. It’s a simple fact of the BIA’s scope and mandate and funding formula and budget cannot solve any of these problems."
The job posting for the executive director position is here.