The Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas was established in order to coordinate the efforts of the city’s growing number of BIAs.
The concept of Business Improvement Areas (BIAs) first originated in 1970 with a group of business owners in the Bloor-Jane area of west Toronto. These business owners were concerned about the decline of their main street caused by the growing popularity of shopping malls, and an extended subway system, both of which were drawing shoppers away from their traditional retail area.
Under the Provincial legislation (Section 217 of the Municipal act, RSO 1980, suspended by section 220, RSO 1990) this group of business owners created a self-help program. The legislation empowered the BIA’s members to pool and use their own money to promote their main street and to make several physical improvements to the area such as banners, flowers, etc in order to bring customers back to Bloor Street West. This not only benefited the local businesses, but also the entire neighbourhood.
The success of the first BIA, Bloor West Village, inspired other retail districts to follow this model and become BIAs themselves; such as, Bloor-Yorkville, The Kingsway, etc. Today, there are 85 BIAs in the City of Toronto, and over 300 across the Province of Ontario. The BIA concept has been emulated throughout Canada, the United States and across the globe.
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 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.