First BIA Bus Tour blew the lid off the bus!
The first BIA Bus Tour commenced on Thursday, July 13th, 2023 from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. After over 50 years of BIA success, a bus tour of the different BIAs surrounding the downtown core were toured. Hosted by Councillor Shelley Carroll, organized by John Kiru (TABIA Executive Director) and facilitated by Dorsa Alizadeh-Shabani (The Waterfront BIA Operations Manager). Five City of Toronto Councillors attended in support of the BIA Initiative, including Shelley Carroll (Don Valley North) Chair of Economic Development, Lily Cheng (Willowdale), Chris Moise (Toronto Center), Nick Mantas (Scarborough-Agincourt), Dianne Saxe (University-Rosedale) and several of their staff. In addition, we had representation from the City Economic Development department including Patrick Tobin (General Manager), Tobias Novogrodsky (Director) and Rebecca Condon (BIA Office Manager).
Several TABIA and BIA representatives joined us for the full tour, including Maureen Sirois (TABIA Chair, The Eglinton Way BIA Chair), Chris Rickett (TABIA Vice-Chair, Corso-Italia BIA), Chris Fraser (TABIA Secretary, Liberty Village BIA), Oliver Hierlihy (TABIA Director, The Waterfront BIA), Tim Concur (The Waterfront BIA Executive Director), and Dorsa Alizadeh-Shabani (The Waterfront BIA Operations Manager). We also picked up on the way, as we visited their respective BIAs, Briar de Lang (Bloor-Yorkville BIA Executive Director) and Mary Fragedakis (Greektown BIA Executive Director).
The bus tour was a great opportunity for BIA members to share their stories, successes, trials and tribulations with fellow BIA members and City of Toronto Councillors. As we passed through each BIA, BIA members had the opportunity to share about their BIA projects, their pain points, and how they have been addressing them alongside their stakeholders and the City of Toronto.
The BIA bus tour stops included the following BIAs (in order of route): The Waterfront BIA, The Toronto Financial District BIA, St. Lawrence Market Neighbourhood BIA, Liberty Village BIA, Parkdale BIA, Roncesvalles Village BIA, Bloor by the Park BIA, Bloor West Village BIA, The Junction BIA, Little Portugal BIA, Little Italy BIA, The Eglinton Way BIA, Bloor-Yorkville BIA, Broadview Danforth BIA, Greektown on the Danforth BIA, and Riverside BIA.
Midday, we had the pleasure of being hosted by Connie Mastrangelo (Little Italy BIA Chair, TABIA Executive Director) and her husband Rocco at the infamous Cafe Diplomatico in Little Italy. The food was fresh and a welcome break from the sunny bus tour. It was a great reminder of why the BIA movement was formed in 1970 to support small, local, family-run businesses like this one.
During the tour, attendees learned about the different BIAs history, distinguishable features and some challenges each BIA has faced. Councillors asked pertinent questions and genuinely found value and further interest in BIAs. The bus tour was a great opportunity to connect with City staff and network with other BIAs. Before the tour ended several attendees, including City Councillors, expressed interest in a future bus tour through other parts of town.
Overall, the BIA Bus Tour was a success! It was a great opportunity to exchange ideas, learn about how other BIAs deal with challenges and to come together with others looking to improve our city. We hope to expand the BIA Bus Tour to visit more BIAs in the future.
Thank you to the City of Toronto Councillors, City Economic Development department, BIA Members and staff who were in attendance. Thank you TABIA for this fun and informative BIA Bus Tour.
We hope to see you at the next one!