The Creation of TABIA
The Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas (TABIA) was formed to coordinate the efforts of the city's growing number of BIAs.

The concept of Business Improvement Areas (BIAs) originated in 1970. A group of business people in the Bloor-Jane area of west Toronto were concerned about the erosion of their marketplace caused by the growing popularity of shopping malls, plus an extended subway system, both of which were drawing shoppers away from their traditional shopping areas.

Under the Provincial legislation (Section 217 of the Municipal act, RSO 1980, suspended by section 220, RSO 1990) the originators created a self-help program. The legislation empowered the BIA members to use their own money to promote their BIA and to make physical improvements to their area in order to attract more customers. This not only benefited the local businesses, but also the entire neighbourhood.

The success of the first BIA, Bloor West Village, ensured that other retail districts followed this model and became BIAs themselves; for example, Bloor-Yorkville BIA and Kingsway BIA ...etc. Today, there are 82 BIAs in the City of Toronto, and over 300 in the Province of Ontario. The BIA concept is emulated throughout Canada, the United States and other countries.

As the number of BIAs in Toronto continued to grow, it became apparent that a formalized organization was required to provide an ongoing means of collecting and exchanging essential information and, importantly, addressing issues and concerns.

In 1980, a constitution was drawn up and a formal association was established, namely, the Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas (TABIA).

TABIA has developed into a well-respected organization, recognized by all levels of government and the commercial sector. TABIA's involvement goes well beyond the promotion of BIAs. TABIA has been called upon to work together with Provincial and City Government on legislation pertaining to small businesses.

The various levels of government recognize that BIAs are the main life-line of the communities. Since the inception of BIAs, the City of Toronto has been supportive, and has championed the BIA movement. A special BIA office was established at City Hall, to administer, assist and support the efforts of the City's BIAs and TABIA.