Celebrating 50 Years of BIAs

Did you know 50 yrs ago today, the world’s first BIA was created right here in Toronto, Ontario, Canada?

Riverside BIA is proud to be one of the first dozen in Toronto, having formed in 1980 (see photo: my how the streetscape has changed?!). This year we are commemorating and celebrating all the amazing memories with our ‘Riverside 40 Years, 40 Stories’ series.

THANK YOU to all our incredible BIA colleagues, members, partners and collaborators for all they do- we could not make this all work without TEAMWORK!!!

The history- 50 Years of BIAs

Business Improvement Area (BIA) legislation was enacted in Ontario, Canada, and became Section 204-217 of the Municipal Act. Bloor West Village in Toronto became the pioneer of the BIA concept and was designated as the first BIA on September 16, 1970. Celebrating #BIAweek and #50yearsforward of BIAs.

We are proud to stand today with over over 80 BIAs in Toronto and 300 BIAs in Ontario. The dedication and hard work of many enrich the lives of our business community daily making stronger, safer, vibrant, and healthy. Happy Anniversary BIAs!

Read all about in the Toronto BIA Association’s News Release

BE A TOURIST. #ShowLoveTO. Riverside Edition

Did you know there are 100+ local attractions in Riverside’s 10 blocks?!  Be A Tourist, locally by getting to know local landmarks, businesses, community spaces, and public art, right here in Toronto’s Riverside.

Piggy-backing on the #ShowLoveTO campaign, we’re sharing the many ways to get to know this incredible neighbourhood: browse our online directory, explore the Riverside Online Marketplace, and check out our full map and links below to explore some of Riverside’s popular attractions including public art, breweries, hotels, music venues and more.

Get to know the Riverside Bridge

Riverside Bridge illuminated nightly (Photo credit: Ford Thurston RE/MAX Hallmark)

Get to know Riverside’s Coffee Culture

Get to know Riverside’s Public Art

Riverside Pollinator Mural (Artist: Nick Sweetman)

Get to know Riverside Breweries

Get to know The Broadview Hotel

The Broadview Hotel (Illustration by: Ria Kapoor)

Get to know The Opera House

The Opera House-30 years-Riverside, Toronto

Get to Know the Riverside BIA – it’s our 40th anniversary in 2020!

Get to Know the Humans of Riverside

‘Humans of Riverside’ series Launches as Part of iheART Mainstreet Art Challenge

On September 1, 2020, the Riverside BIA got together with local BIPOC artists Bareket Kezner and Yshmael Cabana, the STEPS Initiative, RBC and community members to launch the ‘Humans of Riverside’ story telling series a part of the iheART Mainstreet Art Challenge.

The Riverside BIA – located along Toronto’s Queen Street East from the iconic bridge over the Don River to just past De Grassi St – is proud to celebrate diversity and inclusiveness with the story-telling series: “Humans of Riverside: Giving Voice and Making Space for BIPOC”. The project was launched in summer 2020 in collaboration with BIPOC writer and editor Grace Cameron, artists Bareket Kezwer (@bkez) and Yshmael Cabana (@_yshyshysh), and local residents, business owners and other community members, to bring public art and story-telling to Queen Street East in the Riverside BIA. This project is supported by STEPS Initiative (@STEPSInitiative) and RBC as part of their iheart Mainstreet Art Challenge.

Launch of Humans of Riverside series as part of the iheart Mainstreet Art Challenge, September 2020

Launch of Humans of Riverside series as part of the iheart Mainstreet Art Challenge at Eastbound Brewing Co, 700 Queen St E, September 2020

The “Humans of Riverside: Giving Voice and Making Space for BIPOC” story-telling project makes physical space in storefront windows for BIPOC artists, and gives voice to stories from local BIPOC community members in Riverside. Each piece of art and each story shared has a bigger meaning that connects to the local business/window and to the BIPOC community member by sharing a link/QR code to their full story online. The Main Street Art Challenge brings this new and ongoing storytelling series to life, and the art produced for the challenge will continue to live virtually beyond the Main Street Art Challenge as part of the ongoing ‘Humans of Riverside‘ storytelling initiative.

Write/Editor Grace Cameron with community member Drew Dopwell who share a story as part of Humans of Riverside and the iheart Mainstreet Challenge

Write/Editor Grace Cameron with community member Drew Dopwell who share a story as part of Humans of Riverside and the iheart Mainstreet Challenge, at the September 2020 launch of the series in Toronto’s Riverside BIA

The artists Bareket Kezner and Yshmael Cabana at the launch of the Humans of Riverside iheart Mainstreet Challenge in Riverside at Eastbound Brewing Co

The artists Bareket Kezner and Yshmael Cabana at the launch of the Humans of Riverside iheart Mainstreet Challenge in Riverside at Eastbound Brewing Co, 700 Queen St E

Read the full stories and visit the art works:

Charlene‘s Story: east-facing window at 660 Queen Street East (Quince)

Omar’s Story: Queen St window at 4 Munro Street (Oma)

Drew’s Story: window at 686 Queen Street East (The John)

Grace’s Story: window at 700 Queen Street East (Eastbound)

Rohit’s Story: west-facing window at 800 Queen Street East

The Riverside BIA wishes to thank:

The storytellers. We are proud to showcase all these incredible community members, artists, business owners and the stories of family, food, perseverance, legacy, and unstoppable strength. Thank you for sharingOmar (owner of Pizzaiolo), Drew (BIA maintenance staff), Rohit (owner of Indian Spice Room), Charlene (community kitchen at RTCC), Grace (special thanks as our ‘Humans of Riverside series writer/editor’).

The business owners/managers who are giving space on their windows for the storytellers: Dave of Eastbound Brewing Co,  Josh of The John, Adrienne of Oma Chiropractic & Wellness, Derek and Andre, Rosie and the team at Quine Flowers.

The artists: Bareket Kezwer and Yshmael Cabana

The story writer/ editor Grace Cameron.

The STEPS Initiative and RBC for their support of the iheART Mainstreet Initiative.

Riverside 40 Years, 40 Stories: Lynne Patterson

This is a story from Lynne Patterson, resident in Riverside since 1991 and one of the Riverside BIA’s original and longstanding volunteers. Lynne is moving away from the area after 29 years and we are pleased to include a story from her as part of this ‘Riverside 40 Years, 40 Stories ‘series!

When asked about what Riverside was like when she first moved here, Lynne shared:

“I bought my little row house here in 1991, when I told people I was moving to Queen and Broadview, most people said ‘Where’s that?!'” at the time the only notable thing there was Jilly’s ‘exotic dancers club’ and anyone who said “Oh ya, I know that” would quickly say “But I’ve never been there”.

“The Real Jerk was really the only restaurant besides a few diners and to go out for a nice meal you’d go to another area, but look at it now!”

“The hardware store at the time was great because you could buy a single nail rather than 100.”

She recalled having gone to the Ralph Thornton Centre and the Queen-Saulter Library at the time: “the library branch was going to be closed because it was considered too small. We had a whole community uprising around that, getting Councillors involved, petitions, and in the end they took it off the list of closures and had it refurbished, and it was incredibly well used even at that time. It shows that community voices can work.”

Lynne also remembers when a film studio did up the neighbourhood for “Cinderella Man” in 2004. At the time she was a Russell Crowe fan and spent hours hanging out on Queen but she never saw him filming. She says”They filmed it in the summer and it was supposed to be in the winter so they had fake snow, and the whole street was lined with classic cars  -it was great.”

Lynne doesn’t remember anything of the BIA when she first came to the neigbourhood, but she first got involved with the Riverdale Artwalk when it was just Ron Fletcher and Stan Jones and a couple of other people doing studio tours. There were several spots in Riverside on the tour which were working studios in people’s homes. Then, the Riverdale Artwalk kept growing and growing and Lynne became a part of the more formal organization, helping put together a Board of Directors and other formal policies. She recalls “It became the second biggest art show in the city, I believe, grown from two people to hundreds and also formed the Artists’ Network”.

Lynne volunteering with the Riverside BIA at Riverside Wine Fest held in the Ralph Thornton Community Centre (2015)

Lynne volunteering with the Riverside BIA at Riverside Wine Fest held in the Ralph Thornton Community Centre (2015)

It was then that Lynne became aware of the Riverside BIA as the BIA was running their street festival in conjunction with the Riverdale Artwalk. She went onto the BIA website and sent an email to the office inquiring if she could volunteer as a resident or was if it was just business people. She never got a reply.

Then she met Perry Lupyrypa, the BIA’s Executive Director at the time, at an event and said she’d never heard back about her offer to volunteer. Perry said “That’s ridiculous! Of course you can, anyone can volunteer” They met for coffee at Bonjour Brioche on the patio and within half an hour Lynne was on three different committees/ working groups of the BIA. That was probably around 2010 or 11, Lynne started getting involved in the Marketing Committee and BIA events. She says “I walked away a bit dazed from that meeting, but stayed involved and it’s been fun ever since”.

Lynne shared: “After Perry, there was Anjuli Solanki and now Jennifer Lay – it has been a spectacular group of women running the BIA office – the events and festivals this BIA has been able to pull off with limited resources and budget is astounding.”

Jennifer Lay, current Executive Director shared “It’s really about all the partnerships and just being open to people who want to help – like Lynne – that help make things happen.”

Lynne was the BIA’s first recipient of the Jack Korman Memorial Award for Outstanding Volunteerism in 2013. When she was awarded this honour she had no idea this volunteer award existed, she ended up at the end of a BIA walking tour led by Ron Fletcher and Lynne herself, ending up in Cannonball Coffee (formerly F’Coffee). She had a friend staying with her from England and was going to meet the friends at Tabule for lunch and everyone was trying to get her to stay at the coffee place. She was getting quite irritated and didn’t know why she was being asked to wait. Mitch Korman, the BIA Chair, showed up with his brother and a plaque – and it finally dawned on Lynne that it was an award, for her!

Lynne Patterson is awarded in 2013 with the Jack Korman Memorial Award by Mitch Korman, Riverside BIA Chair, and son of Jack Korman

Lynne Patterson is awarded in 2013 with the Jack Korman Memorial Award by Mitch Korman, Riverside BIA Chair, and son of Jack Korman (Photo taken at F’Coffee, now Cannonball Coffee & Bar)

Jack Korman Memorial Award for Outstanding Volunteerism - Awarded in 2013 to Lynne Patterson - Riverside BIA, Toronto

Jack Korman Memorial Award for Outstanding Volunteerism – Awarded in 2013 to Lynne Patterson – Riverside BIA, Toronto

Whether it was pulling late nights with editing articles for the Riverside Magazine, connecting businesses with art for the Riverside/Riverdale ArtWalk Tour, pouring Ontario wine at Riverside Wine & Craft Beer Fest, or being a regular contributor to the incredible ideas and efforts of the Riverside Marketing Committee – Lynne has been a dedicated and stalwart volunteer through it all.

When we asked about the changes Lynne has seen in Riverside, she said:

“When I first came to De Grassi/Wardell a lot of single women with careers bought homes here.  It was a time when the area was affordable and could be managed on a single income. Over the years many have moved and the last of us – now in our early 70s – are now moving out. I still love Riverside but the responsibility for an 1888 home is a lot now. There’s been a real gradual transition, there were hardly any children when I moved here, and now there’s many young couples with babies so the whole neighbourhood is changing, it’s been very interesting.

Custom art by ca

Thanks to Bianca of casabianca-art.com for creating this beautiful sketch to help the Riverside BIA thank and bid farewell to Lynne, our longtime volunteer and community member in Riverside. Lynne was overjoyed to receive this piece and shared that it made her feel special and appreciated as she moves on to a new neighbourhood and home, while keeping a special place in her heart and on the wall for her first home and community of 29 years.

How do you feel about the transformation of Riverside?

“I think it’s good. You don’t want things to stay the same.”

Riverside BIA co-Chair Mitch Korman shared: “Lynne will always be part of the heart of Riverside, and as she moves on to a new home and new activities, the Riverside BIA wishes her the very best and thank her sincerely for all her efforts over the years!”

Saying thank you and farewell to Lynne Patterson at Riverside's Eastbound Brewing Co in August 2020

Saying thank you and farewell to Lynne at Riverside’s Eastbound Brewing Co in August 2020


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The ‘Riverside BIA 40 Years, 40 Stories’ Series is part of how we’re celebrating the 40th anniversary of this incredible neighbourhood of community-builders.



THANK YOU: Riverside Eats Virtually!

‘Riverside Eats’ marked a milestone as the Riverside BIA’s first virtual event! ​ ​The event did double duty of showcasing some of the incredible restaurants and ​chefs right here in Riverside​,​ while raising money for an amazing local caus​e!​ We had an ​fantastic team of ​volunteer ​professionals giving time to make this an event a success​,​ along with our amazing technician who pulled it all together seamlessly. We had a wonderful and very ​enthusiastic audience​,​ and loved every minute​ of the experience!​ Thank you to everyone for helping raise a​round $1,000 for Mustard Seed, Fontbonne Ministries local food program here in Riverside!!​ Please see our website for for THANK YOU credits to all those who supported this event.​

Please find the links below to ​the full recording of the Riverside ​Eats event to watch at your l​leisure and all the incredible short restaurant videos​ with summer recipes so you can follow along, as well as the heart-warming video showcasing the incredible work of our charitable partner!


​*Riverside Eats (Full Event Recording – Video)
*Riverside Eats: Eastbound Brewing Co (Video)
*Riverside Eats: Est Restaurant (Video)
*Riverside Eats: Tabule (Video)
*Riverside Eats: Punjabi By Nature (Video)
*Riverside Eats: Food Program at  Mustard Seed, Fontbonne Ministries Food Program (Video)


Riverside Businesses: 
Est Restaurant – Chef Sean and  Chef Reece
Tabule Middle Eastern Cuisine – Diana and Chef Rony
Eastbound Brewing Co – Dave and Chef Tara
Punjabi By Nature  – Lucky and Chef Manmeet
Irish Design House – Sinead
La Carnita Riverside – Jay

Our Charitable Partner

Fontbonne Ministries, Mustard Seed – Elizabeth and AnnMarie

 Our Event Partners and Hosts

Jon and Cheryl from J & C Toronto Real Estate
Lars from Laughing Vikings

 Riverside BIA & Marketing Committee Members

Jennifer, Mona, and Ria from the BIA virtual office
Dave from Eastbound Brewing Co
Kris from the Jam Factory TO
Dan from Chiasson Homes

Video Production

J & C Toronto Media

Graphic Design

Geo Conidis

 Technical Support

Guillermo Subauste

*Thank you to the City of Toronto BIA Innovation Fund for helping make this project possible.*