The Riverside Business Improvement Area (BIA), established in 1980, is one of the first BIA’s in Canada. The BIA’s mandate is to improve, beautify and promote Riverside as a business and shopping district through marketing, public programming and streetscape improvements. Riverside BIA is a community-oriented not-for-profit association of local business people and property owners who work in partnership with the City of Toronto to enhance the Riverside business district, located along Queen Street East from the DVP to Empire Avenue.
761 Queen Street East
Riverside BIA Board of Directors 2015 – 2016
Chair: Mitchell E. Korman, Korman & Company Barristers/Solicitors
Acting Secretary / Treasurer: Natasha Varjacic, Nell & Natasha’s Real Estate Homeward Brokerage
Dale Sonier, Chair Planning Committee (macFAB Fabrics, macFAB Sews, macFAB Home)
Rick Auiler, Co-Chair Marketing Committee (An Sibín Pub)
Adrienne McRuvie, Co-Chair Marketing Committee (Oma Chiropractic & Wellness Centre)
Athena Ellinas-Towers, The Opera House
Ellen Davidson, Dimensions Custom Framing & Gallery
Rosie Little-Jeffares, Quince Flowers
Natasha Varjacic, Nell & Natasha’s Real Estate Homeward Brokerage
Michael Kirouac, BMO
Executive Director: Anjuli Solanki
Marketing & Programs Director: Jennifer Lay
Maintenance Manager: Andrew Dopwell
Finance/Book-keeping: Barb Lewis
What the BIA Does
The services and activities of BIAs are tailored to meet the specific needs identified by the local business community that funds them. Typically, the ‘toolbox’ that a BIA will use to build the competitiveness and vitality of a district include:
- Providing maintenance services over and above those provided by the City including frequent sidewalk sweeping, trash and debris removal, periodic power washing of sidewalks and removal of graffiti from buildings and public amenities
- Providing extra security to augment services from local police departments
- Marketing programs aimed to improve the overall image of our business district through collaborative promotional strategies, market research and public relations
- Reinforcing the business district’s drawing power as a destination through special events, often targeting consumer markets that typically underutilized it
- Supporting projects that attract jobs and investment to business districts, carrying out market analysis, developing databases and utilizing City grants (e.g. Façade Improvement Grant, Commercial Research Grant)
- Implementing capital improvement strategies such as street lights, benches, planters , additional litter receptacles and public art
Benefits of a BIA
- Creating a cleaner, safer and more attractive business district
- Ensuring a stable and predictable resource base to fund supplemental services and programs
- Helping to maintain and increase property values
- Giving a business district a distinct identity and making it more competitive with surrounding retail and business centres
Toronto BIAs are also members of the Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas (TABIA) umbrella organization which assists with the following:
- Encouraging and facilitating the exchange of information, experiences, and ideas among BIAs
- Advocating on behalf of BIAs to influence government policy
- Helping obtain funding for programs and services for BIAs
- Offering discount and savings programs for its members, such as preferred Merchant Visa and MasterCard rates
BIA Streetscape Projects/Programs
The Riverside BIA office participates in the City of Toronto’s 50/50 Capital Cost-Share Program, which provides matching funding to BIA partners for streetscape beautification projects. Some of the BIA’s key capital projects have included:
- The Riverside Gateway Bridge project, which was a 3-year $500K capital project that stylishly lights up the Queen Street Viaduct Bridge each night and includes wayfinding art where King and Queen Street East meet (completed 2015)
- Riverside was the selected to be the pilot project with the Department of Parks and Forestry to install sustainable and safe tree pits in our neighbourhood (completed 2013)
- The City of Toronto and Riverside District Business Improvement Area (BIA) installed artificial turf around trees in sidewalk cut-outs not only to prolong tree life and overall health but also to create consistency in tree pit treatment.
- The pilot project was implemented along Toronto’s Queen Street East to see if the trees would survive extreme weather and road salt during the winter.
- Tree cut-outs were enlarged to create a wider area for the absorption of air and water, and were surrounded by a raised rubber edge to deter pedestrians from walking in them. This reduces soil compaction, which would otherwise prevent roots from absorbing nutrients. It also lowers maintenance costs for the city.
- Riverside Tree Pit installation has generated positive feedback and achieved project objectives because it expanded the pedestrian clearway (i.e. walking area), created a tidy appearance of the sidewalk, and decreased the sidewalk maintenance and the need for annual tree-mulching, Previously, the pits were covered in mulch and continuously blowing onto the sidewalk and road. Now, the mulch is concealed under the cover, so the tree still benefits and the sidewalk is tidy.
- The Project was expanded to include all 71 Riverside Tree Pits in 2013.
- Capital artwork installations include Eldon Garnet’s 1990 three-part public art installation ‘Time: and a Clock’. Part one can be seen on the DVP bridge on Queen Street East and reads “This river I step in is not the river I stand in”. Part two are meditations on time which can be found on each corner of Broadview Avenue and Queen Street East, and read “Distance = Velocity X Time”, “Time is Money, Money is Time”, “Too Soon Free From Time”, “Better Late Than Never”. Part three is cleverly placed atop each banner pole at Jimmy Simpson Park and spells out the word TIME. It is one of the city’s most subtly grounded pieces of public art.
- Decorative street signs, lighting, benches and planters
Over the past decade, the BIA has received over $100,000 in façade and streetscape improvement grants. These are just a few of the many artistic and wayfinding pieces that can be found throughout Riverside along Queen Street East from the Bridge (at DVP) east to Empire Avenue:
- Riverside BIA installed their Welcome to Riverside Mural at the Corner of Queen & Grant (2013). This was made possible with a grant from the City of Toronto Economic Development & Tourism Department.
- In 2014 and 2015, the BIA worked with artist Monica Wickeler to install the Riverside Sports Heritage and Legacy Murals at 1 Munro Street, thanks to support from Pan Am IGNITE and City of Toronto.
- In 2016, the BIA partnered with Ron Elbers (building owner of Elbers Antiques) and mural artist Nick Sweetman to complete the Riverside Pollinator Mural on the west-facing wall of 777 Queen St East, thanks to support from the City of Toronto.
The Riverside BIA has a year-round weekly graffiti removal program to help keep our streetscape clean and safe.