It’s official.

The Queensway BIA is now a reality.

Last week, Toronto City Council passed a bylaw to enact the new BIA that was 30 years in the making.

City-released official poll results earlier this month indicated 65 per cent of Queensway business owners recently voted in favour of forming a Business Improvement Area on a two-kilometre stretch of The Queensway from Royal York Road to Kipling Avenue.

City criteria to establish a BIA requires a 50 per cent or better favourable poll result.

Area Councillor Peter Milczyn lauded the results. He spearheaded the most-recent attempt to create a bylaw, hiring a staffer to go door-to-door to discuss the benefits, namely branding, marketing and advocacy, of a BIA with business owners. A series of open houses for business owners followed.

“It’s very exciting that the business people on The Queensway have finally embraced creating a BIA,” Milczyn recently said.

“The support is obviously very strong, and having a BIA is an integral part of fulfilling the vision of The Queensway Avenue Study, which was to create a vibrant pedestrian shopping district.”

Milczyn attributed the success of the most-recent BIA attempt to visible growth and development on The Queensway, such as new condo builds and restaurants, coupled with a strong BIA steering committee.

Queensway business and property owners Rachel Kelebay and Michael Borromeo are co-chairs of the Queensway BIA steering committee.

Kelebay sits on the Bloor West Village BIA and operates businesses there.

Recently, her family invested in the Queensway neighbourhood, purchased properties and opened a Max’s Market.

“The area is on the up,” said Kelebay, an architect by profession. “It’s situated on an (highway) artery. I believe the area will really explode and become a much more important urban area where King Street will eventually expand out to The Queensway.”

Borromeo’s parents have owned a property and business on The Queensway since the 1960s. He and his wife now own and operate Metropolitan Kitchen and Bath on The Queensway.

“It’s really great. We’re very exited,” Borromeo said of the prospect of starting a Queensway BIA. “We’re super proud to be able to pull this off at a time when there is all this activity and development on The Queensway. We’re totally thrilled.”

One of the BIA board’s first orders of business could be to expand the boundaries of the BIA, Milczyn said.

This fall, business owners and Milczyn are planning the Queensway BIA’s first official event, a festival called “Celebrate the Queensway”.

Tamara Shephard
Etobicoke Guardian, July 16, 2012