Bloor West Village BIA marks milestone.

It all took place under the big top.

The Bloor West Village Business Improvement Area (BIA), the first of its kind in Canada, celebrated its 40th anniversary with an invite-only reception, Saturday, April 17.

40th anniversary
BIA celebrates 40 years...Alex Ling, Paula McInerney and Toronto Mayor David Miller at an event celebrating the 40th anniversary of the inception of the first BIA, the Bloor West Village BIA, on Saturday evening at Bloor West Village.

The celebration took place amid a week of BIA events, including the International Downtown Association's (IDA) Leadership Retreat downtown and the Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas (TABIA) in conjunction with the Ontario Business Improvement Area Association's Annual Conference in Niagara Falls.

The 40th anniversary commemoration was hosted by TABIA and took place in the Green P parking lot north of Bloor Street West, off of Windermere Avenue. Guests included dignitaries from all three levels of government, all former Toronto mayors and BIA personnel from 1970, delegates from the IDA and the BIA conference.

"It was great," said Alex Ling, past chair of the BIA and founder and past president of TABIA. "It was magical."

40th Anniversary
BIA celebrates 40 years...Robert Bundy, Bill Whiteacre and Alex Ling at an event celebrating the 40th anniversary of the inception of the first BIA, the Bloor West Village BIA, April 17 at Bloor West Village.

Mayor David Miller spoke, as did Toronto Centre-Rosedale Councillor Kyle Rae, chair of the city's economic development department, which oversees all the BIAs in Toronto. Parkdale-High Park Councillor Bill Saundercook shared remarks and Parkdale-High Park MP Gerard Kennedy brought greetings from Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff. Staff Inspector Peter Lennox spoke on behalf of 11 Division officers, who Ling thanked for providing security for the evening. John Kiru, executive director of TABIA, was Master of Ceremonies.

The Ontario Heritage Foundation is commemorating the BIA's anniversary and its distinction as the first one in the world, with a plaque that will be erected at the entrance of the Neil McLellan Park either this summer or fall, said Ling.

"It's exciting," said Ling and will give the BIA another reason to host a party, he added.

John Canham and The String Band performed along with the Ukraina Dance Ensemble.

Ling extended his thanks to the Toronto Parking Authority for providing the use of its parking lot free of charge.

The food was provided by different BIAs from across Toronto, said Ling, and the lighting and decor was done by Blachere Lumination.

"It was just so magical to be there," said Ling.

It served to "recharge our battery," said Ling of the volunteer organization.

Lisa Rainford: Inside Toronto News

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Photo/JOSEPH HOWARTH