Our Evolution

The growth of our community as a mixed-used, amenity-rich neighbourhood fosters a culture that draws visitors and locals to the Downtown West. With office and residential occupancy on the rise, I am confident that our BIA is well-positioned for the future.

Michael Emory • BIA Chair

Growth and development

We are pleased to report on our initiatives over the past year, regarding the BIA’s activities, performance highlights and future plans. As Canada’s largest Business Improvement Area, the Toronto Downtown West BIA is a thriving commercial hub where people live, work and come to enjoy an array of hospitality and cultural attractions. The BIA’s evolution continues to reinforce the neighbourhood’s vibrant and dynamic nature.

Janice Solomon • Executive Director

Watch Janice’s AGM Welcome

2022 Highlights

To support our business members and address matters impacting our area, the Toronto Downtown West BIA is guided by four principles of the strategic plan: promoting, advocating, and collaborating with member businesses as well as enhancing and supporting the safety of the area. The plan outlines key objectives which are advanced through the BIA’s efforts and partnerships with numerous community stakeholders.

2022 At a Glance

Working with our members, developers, local residents and residents’ associations, hospitality and tourism-related associations and levels of Government provides a greater impact on relevant matters for our BIA

We partnered with the Downtown 6 BIAs on several topics impacting the downtown core such as:

  • Advocating for a healthy recovery of our city (Downtown Six BIAs for a Healthy, Thriving Downtown Return)
  • Supporting the City’s SafeTO lmplementation plan, which resources the mental health crisis response; gun violence reduction programs; and supports for individuals and communities impacted by violence.
  • Creating a Safety & Inclusion 9-point action plan for healthy communities
  • Advocating to levels of government on greater support for issues around housing, addictions, mental health, transit and mobility

We also continued our partnerships with the

  • Canadian Urban Institute
  • Urban Land Institute
  • Toronto Region Board of Trade, and the
  • Strategic Regional Research Alliance

This year the BIA continued supporting businesses requiring timely communications from each level of government regarding restrictions, resources, and relief programs. Additionally, our weekly road closure and infrastructure notices have become a valuable tool for keeping members up to date, and our quarterly newsletters provide information around development, BIA initiatives and member promotions.

Member promotional opportunities on our social channels have been enhanced through increased contesting. New features on our website amplify the activities of the neighbourhood with dedicated spaces for member listings, blogs, events, and promotions, and our updated BIA Resources page provides information relevant to members. Collectively, the website, social media and email communications will continue to expand our reach to audiences in creative ways and be a key source of information for our members, residents, developers, and City planners. In 2023, the BIA will provide further support to members by facilitating workshops and informational sessions related to our community.

In response to the ongoing intensification of the BIA, we established a dedicated page that provides a comprehensive view of the incredible rate of growth and development along with the BIA’s vision for the physical environment of the area. The Growth and Development page includes an interactive map that details the description of all projects and provides relevant information such as key development stats, the development process and the BIA’s development checklist. Launched in Spring, our new Growth and Development Framework is also available on this page. This document is intended to be used as a tool by developers and City planners during the planning process by identifying BIA priorities through three key areas of focus:

  • Pedestrian Realm Network and Park Space System
  • Streetscapes
  • Uses at Grade

The framework garnered impressive coverage in several noteworthy publications including: BlogTO, UrbanToronto, Novae Res Urbis Toronto, the Toronto Star and Curiocity

The Planning Partnership interview

Over the years, developer contributions to public art has provided us the opportunity to curate over 70 installations in our ArtWalk guide, a self-guided walking tour complete with scripts, photos, and an interactive map. This year, work began on evolving ArtWalk to an innovative, tourist-focused product that seeks to tell the story of each installation through audio and featuring an augmented realty experience for select works. Expected to launch Summer 2023, users will be able to engage with this immersive experience on their smartphones. The new ArtWalk experience will be a transformative placemaking tool attracting visitors to the neighbourhood.

The BIA’s cleaning program continues to address the extreme conditions on public and private properties through ongoing deficiencies reporting and maintenance. Our contracted teams work daily on issues in the area including removal of abandoned items, weeds, litter, graffiti, posters, snow cleanup, power washing and sidewalk cleaning. Our anti-adhesive pole wraps and paints continue to deter graffiti, postering, and tagging. Flower baskets and planters add vibrancy and beautification to the area, particularly on streets and areas with limited tree canopies.

In June of this year, the BIA partnered with a Crime Prevention Officer from 52 Division as well as an expert in mental health education and social work to offer a complimentary in-person workshop for BIA Members. In this BIA De-escalation and Safety Best Practices Workshop, attendees learned supportive communications and de-escalation strategies along with a review of key personal safety and office security best practices.

To further our efforts, the BIA created a new position dedicated to safety and security. Additionally, a Downtown West Security Group has been established, made up of security and operations representatives from several of our businesses to address issues impacting the area. Advocacy work continues around the need for more immediate supportive housing and mental health and addiction programs. Working with member businesses, we continue to report on crisis and criminal incidents to the police and City Shelter, Support and Housing Administration.

John Street plays an important role in the network of downtown streets, connecting many of Toronto’s key cultural institutions along this pedestrian priority corridor. Toronto Hydro is completing the final phase of underground utility work on John Street, after which the City will begin its tender process for street improvements. Once completed, John Street will have wider sidewalks, new hydro poles, special lighting, new paving treatment, flexible curbs, Wi-Fi and tree canopy.

Dialog Interview

The Ontario Line project is a priority transit plan for downtown Toronto, from Exhibition Place to the Ontario Science Centre. Major infrastructure work for this project will take place at Queen and Spadina & King and Bathurst. The BIA participates in regular community consultation committee meetings and conducted a walking tour of the neighbourhood to provide the City with a better understanding of current and future infrastructure work impacting our businesses. We will provide regular updates on infrastructure work schedules and public consultation meeting notifications.

Earlier this year, we announced the successful expansion of our BIA boundary. Over the past few years, we have started to include businesses in the new area into our communications, as well as work with retail and hospitality businesses on marketing & promotional opportunities, and on programs such as CaféTO. As an expanded BIA, we can begin to roll out our public realm maintenance and enhancement programs to include the new boundary area, as well as strengthen our collective voice, and provide regular communications on matters impacting this neighbourhood. We are excited to welcome our new members and look forward to future and current opportunities to work together.

2023 Budget

Streetscape Improvements

Amenity and Maintenance

Promotion and Communication

General and Administrative

Provision for Tax Appeal Expenditures

$ 1,569,000

$  1,364,512

$  856,416

$  591,436

$  358,204

Streetscape Improvements – $ 1,569,000

Amenity and Maintenance – $ 1,364,512

Promotion and Communication – $ 856,416

General and Administrative – $ 591,436

Provision for Tax Appeal Expenditures – $ 358,204

Total Expenditures

$ 4,739,568   

2022 BIA Board of Directors

Michael Emory

Sarah Turney
Vice Chair

Jim Aldridge
Treasurer & Secretary

Veronica Maggisano

Director: Peter Doyle
Director: Oliver Geddes
Director: Simon Gitalis
Director: Lorenz Hassenstein
Director: Maya Kane
Director: David Kelley
Director: Deborah Scott
Director: Steven Sorensen
Director: Laura Weyland

Our Team

Janice Solomon
Executive Director

Dana Duncanson
Director of Marketing & Communications

Mike Josifovic
Director of Safety and Security

Anojan Sathasivam
Urban Planning Manager

Justine Smith
Communications Manager