THE HISTORY OF BIAs CELEBRATING 50 YEARS
In 1967, challenges were facing retailers as a proliferation of shopping malls were
springing up on the outskirts of the city. As a result, some merchants were forced
to close their shops or even in some instances, follow the crowds to the malls.
Vacancies resulted and many local shopping areas began to look run down and
seemed doomed to oblivion.
Out of sheer frustration, a group of businessmen including Alex Ling a true
visionary in the west end of Toronto, along Bloor Street West, went to City Hall and
the Province seeking legislation that would compel all businesses within a
designated area to pay a levy for the purpose of revitalizing their business strip
through physical improvements and promotional activities. The levy would be
collected by the City and turned over to the elected Board of Management to
be used as needed. After some persuasion, the idea was finally adopted and the
Business Improvement Area (BIA) legislation was enacted and became Section
204-217 of the Municipal Act. Bloor West Village became the pioneer of the BIA
concept and was designated as the first BIA in 1970!
Currently there are more than 300 BIAs in the province of Ontario. The model is
used across Canada and throughout The United States and abroad. Businesses,
governments, and community members believe in the concept and have seen the
successes in the model of “Main Street“ communities everywhere.
Your BIA is integral to advancing a distinct, livable, vibrant and resilient business
district within their local community. This video celebrates all that BIAs have
achieved over the last 50 years. Where can we go from here? What does a BIA look
like 50 years from now?