Business owners want Willowdale to have its first Business Improvement Area! Since late August, the city has run a poll of business owners along the Yonge Street corridor between Bishop/Hendon and Highway 401, to gauge interest in forming a Business Improvement Area. The poll closed last week, and almost three quarters of respondents voted in favour of the formation of a BIA.
BIAs benefit local businesses and their communities in a number of ways. The BIA collects a small additional levy from local businesses, and when pooled together, this levy creates a powerful budget for making local street improvements, beautification projects, marketing businesses in the area, and organizing events to draw in customers from across the city. In addition, the City of Toronto makes grants and loans available exclusively to BIAs to pursue projects.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the City has been leaning heavily on BIAs and their leaders to put together programs assisting small businesses in recovering from the crisis. Now that our community is slated to have a unified voice, it’s easier to move forward on a coordinated plan around programs including CurbTO, CafeTO, ActiveTO and several others.
With the polls closed and the results in, City Council can start to take the steps that it needs to pass a by-law and formally establish the BIA. We expect that City Council will approve the by-law, and hope to have the BIA up and running entirely by February 2021.