The fledgling Aldergrove Business Association (ABA) is off to a roaring start, after a founding meeting on Feb. 16 attracted 60 local people from all walks of life.
Prior to the meeting the ABA had already signed up 31 paid members in the non-profit society, and that number had passed 50 by the time the meeting drew to a close Wednesday evening.
Jane Tidball, manager of the Thunderbird Show Park, wanted to be the very first paid member and she was quickly followed by other movers and shakers in the local business community, said ABA president Bruce Heslop.
“We will make this the best town in which to live and do business,” Heslop told the crowd.
While the thrust behind the ABA was initially a response to the high burglary rate many businesses here suffered four or five years ago, Heslop said the goal is to be proactive on a number of fronts beside crime-fighting.
“We want to build pride and ownership in the community,” said Heslop.
The ABA will be non-political in that it won’t be partisan, but will press for constructive dialogue and cooperation between the community and political leaders, as well as with police.
“The ABA will represent business to make sure the Township of Langley does what we need,” said Heslop, noting that the ABA will apply for grants to fund local improvement projects, as well as meet with transit officials to push for better transit links within the community.
Th ABA will also work with the schools and other organizations such as Aldergrove Fair Days to help each other out, such as by providing volunteers for events and special activities, such as beautification projects.
“We want to fill the empty stores and clean up storefronts. We want to encourage everyone to shop local,” said Heslop, pointing to the looming competition that is coming with the High Point mega-mall at the Mount Lehman interchange.
The ABA is not a “business improvement association” and therefore does not levy a tax on property owners. Instead it is a registered non-profit society, primarily reliant on volunteers, and annual dues are only $45. This is primarily to cover the cost of the ABA website, which will be launched shortly.
Moe Wetzel of the Walnut Grove Business Association said they attracted about 20 people to their founding meeting last year and have since grown to over 100 members. He observed that the WGBA had already accomplished much for their community and encouraged Aldergrove to do the same.
RCMP Special Cst. Paul Walker, who first proposed creation of the ABA a couple years ago, also spoke on the ongoing battle to curtail criminal activity in Aldergrove. He said police input from both Langley and Abbotsford will continue to be freely available to the community through the ABA website, providing up-to-date information on criminal patterns and the identities of known criminals to watch for.
He urged locals to report criminal activity “no matter how small” as the statistics paint a picture of patterns that police can follow up on.
“If you catch someone shoplifting we want to charge them. We do not do catch and release; we want to get (court-imposed) conditions on them because when we’re successful the criminals will either leave B.C. or be in jail.”
THe trade area covered by the ABA extends from Mount Lehman Road to 232 Street and from the U.S. border to the Fraser River.
The website will be launched shortly and in the meantime information on the ABA can be had by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org