The Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas (TABIA) awarded 39 BIAs across the city in 20 different categories ranging from environmental and decorative lighting to advocacy and communications at its first-ever Recognition Awards on Wednesday, Oct. 26.
In the Fellowship category, it was a clean sweep for Etobicoke BIAs, with Lakeshore Village, Longbranch, Mimico By the Lake and Mimico Village BIAs taking home the prize.
Additionally, the Village of Islington BIA won a Branding Award for its series of historical murals, while the Kingsway BIA won the Festival Award for its annual fall festival, the Taste of the Kingsway.
"Naturally, we were delighted. We're very proud of our festival, so it was really great to be recognized," said Carrie Slattery, co-ordinator of the Kingsway BIA. "(The TABIA Awards) are a great opportunity to get together with our peers to see the other achievements of BIAs across Toronto and to see what we've all done to contribute to the city."
Billed as a "culinary experience", the annual, two-day Taste of the Kingsway festival, which was held on Sept. 10 and 11 this year, features international cuisines, entertainers, a fresh food market, more than 200 exhibitors, and a host of celebrity chefs - all on Bloor Street West between Prince Edward Drive and Montgomery Road.
"It's a great time of year for our BIA," Slattery said, noting that the end results are always worth the hard work put in by the 40 to 50 volunteers to make the event run so smoothly. "Overall, we're just really proud and pleased that all the planning, hard work and dedication paid off. We had a great team that worked very hard this year, and a lot of people feel very proud of this award."
Since its inception three decades ago, TABIA has shared just such stories about the many successes Toronto's BIAs have experienced over the years, but it wasn't until this year that it decided to recognize their efforts.
"The awards just begin to recognize how much BIAs contribute to the fabric of life in the neighbourhoods of Toronto," TABIA Executive Director John Kiru said in a statement, "and they do it on their own dime or through capital cost-sharing with the city."
This year's inaugural awards were determined by TABIA's executive, but in future, residents will be able to nominate their local BIAs in a number of categories.