Looking Back on 2019 in Riverside BIA, Looking Forward to 2020!

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A note from Riverside BIA’s Executive Director, Jennifer Lay:

As I write this note, I have just completed the big task of down-sizing and packing up the Riverside BIA office at Streetcar Studio which has been our home since 2016, thanks to a unique partnership with Streetcar Developments and the Artists’ Network. While the Riverside BIA office is moving on to a more flexible way of working in 2020 – i.e. co-working membership at Riverside-based East Room, rather than dedicated office space – this fresh start presents opportunities to make new connections, learn to work in different ways, and access new resources.

It is this flexibility, adaptability and ability to do big things with a small amount of resources that has always embodied the BIA and Riverside neighbourhood – a warm and hard-working community whose teamwork and drive has meant always striving for better in all we do, giving back, going above and beyond, and working together to make it all happen. In 2019, these efforts have continued with the goal of making the Riverside neighbourhood a productive, prosperous, and welcoming place for everyone.

I wanted to take this moment to express thanks, recognize efforts and reflect on the past year, while looking ahead to 2020 🙂

SO MANY Thanks:

First and foremost, I want to thank our Acting Executive Director Lais Fabricio who truly led the charge at the Riverside BIA in 2019 while I was on parental leave. I could not have asked for a more amazing and skilled partner to take the helm and wish Lais all the best at her new role at the Eglinton Way BIA!

Riverside BIA Executive Directors in 2019, Lais Fabricio and Jennifer Lay

Riverside BIA Executive Directors in 2019, Lais Fabricio and Jennifer Lay

I want to recognize and thank our Riverside BIA Board of Directors. They are all local business and/or property owners, and are dedicated volunteers who have invested so much of their time and energy into building this BIA community and ensuring operations year-round. Thanks to: Mitch Korman of Korman and Company, who is our long-standing Chair/co-chair and son of original BIA founder Jack Korman; Rosie Little Jeffares, of Quince Flowers, a long-standing Board member who took on the role of Co-Chair in 2019; Natasha Varjacic, of Nell & Natasha’s Real Estate Homeward Brokerage who is our Secretary; Jamie Zeldin of Treasurer, of Hullmark Development who have been supportive of the Riverside BIA for so many years; Adrienne McRuvie, of Oma Chiropractic & Wellness Centre; Athena Ellinas Towers, of The Opera House; Dave Watson, of Eastbound Brewing Co; Ellen Davidson, of Dimensions Custom Framing & Gallery; and Dianna Kennedy, of RE-MAX Hallmark Realty, new in 2019 to the Riverside BIA Board. Special thanks to our Board member and long-time supportive local Councillors Paula Fletcher, and new in 2019 to the Riverside Board Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam.

A big thanks also to other local elected representatives who always go above and beyond to serve and support our neighbourhood including MPP Peter Tabuns and MP Julie Dabrusin.

Thanks to the 2019 members of our Marketing Committee and Streetscape Committee who put in the time, brainpower, and elbow grease to get the many events and initiatives we do here in Riverside from conception to reality. An extra special thanks to Giancarlo Pawelec of pawelecPHOTO for being our fearless magazine editor once again in 2019 and for capturing the memories of all of Riverside’s key events! Big thanks also to our Graphic designer Geo of geocdesign for making Riverside BIA pop in terms of branding.

Thanks to our many students who support the Riverside BIA office, from York University, George Brown College School of ESL, TDSB Adult Learning School, and Canada Summer Jobs.  Thanks to all local folks who work, live and/or play in Riverside and who volunteer their time to help support the Riverside BIA’s annual planning and activities and make the magic happen.

Last, but certainly not least, I want to thank all the Riverside BIA members (local property owners and tenants) and partners who take part and support Riverside community events and initiatives and make this such a warm and welcoming neighbourhood! A special thanks to our community partners The Ralph Thornton Centre and Fontbonne Ministries who are key partners in providing the space, people-power and other resources to make the magic happen here in Riverside.

Here in Riverside we can be truly proud of our amazing teamwork!!

YES, WE CAN BE PROUD…we’re PUBLISHED AGAIN!

RIVERSIDE MAGAZINE shone in 2019 thanks to another fabulous cover (photo credit to 2019 editor Giancarlo Pawelec, graphic design by geocdesign) and popular content by our editorial team. The 2020 Riverside Magazine will continue to take it to the next level – get in touch to be a part of this exciting publication!

Riverside Magazine 2019, featured Toronto's Riverside neighbourhood

Riverside Magazine 2019, featured Toronto’s Riverside neighbourhood

OH the FUN we had:

RIVERSIDE WINE & CRAFT BEER FEST once again launched the Riverside BIA’s annual calendar of public programming in 2019, drawing over 2,000 people to Riverside restaurants, shops, services and community spaces, and raising over $3,000 for the Ralph Thornton Community Centre’s programming. Thanks to our 2019 sponsors and supporters: Hullmark and Bentall Kennedy, Toronto Food Tours, and Eastbound Brewing Co! I’m pleased to announce our 2020 event (coming up March 24-28th!) will continue it’s focus on Ontario wine and up the ante on our local craft beer element, thanks to partnerships with Riverside’s breweries, Eastbound and Saulter Street!

Toronto's Mayor John Tory at Riverside Wine & Craft Beer Fest 2019

Toronto’s Mayor John Tory at Riverside Wine & Craft Beer Fest 2019

RIVERSIDE WALKS drew crowds of people on Saturdays from May to October. Ten separate walks were run, drawing more than 1,200 people, thanks to our fearless walk leaders: Ron Fletcher, Danette Steele, Manu Kabahizi, Anjuli Solanki, Lais Fabricio, and myself. Looking forward to another incredible year of walks in 2020!

Toronto's Riverside Coffee Culture Walk stops at Boxcar Social, 2019

Toronto’s Riverside Coffee Culture Walk stops at Boxcar Social, 2019

RIVERSIDE EATS & BEATS was a hit, thanks to the fabulous participation of so many Riverside BIA members; our partnerships with Eastbound Brewing Co, the Ralph Thornton Community Centre, Nell & Natasha’s Real Estate Homeward and others, and our generous sponsors Hullmark and Bentall Kennedy! Looking forward to another great festival, coming up Saturday, June 6th, 2020, with some BIG plans in the works!

Eastbound Beer Garden at Riverside's Eats & Beats Streetfest 2019

Eastbound Beer and eats from Toronto Food Toronto at Riverside’s Eats & Beats Streetfest 2019

RIVERSIDE HALLOWEEN was super popular (as always!) and we got lucky with the weather! Big thanks to Nell & Natasha’s Real Estate Homeward, Jimmie Simpson Rec Centre, the Queen/Saulter Library and all the Riverside businesses that take part to make this an always fun event! Together, we raised over $1000 for the local South Riverdale Child-Parent Centre. Can’t wait to see all the creative costumes when the Kiddie Costume Parade is back on October 31st, 2020!

Riverside Halloween organizers Nell and Natasha, Jimmie Simpson Rec Centre and Riverside BIA, 2019

Riverside Halloween organizers Nell & Natasha, Jimmie Simpson Rec Centre and Riverside BIA, 2019

LIGHT UP RIVERSIDE & SHOP THE NEIGHBOURHOOD was a fantastic day of local shopping, eating, and promotions throughout Riverside, thanks to so many participating businesses. The day culminated in community celebrations at Light Up Riverside which were truly a joy! Special thanks to our Light Up Riverside sponsors Baird MacGregor Insurance Brokers LP and Dianna Kennedy RE/MAX Hallmark, our host Fontbonne Ministries and the amazing Toronto Beaches Children’s & Youth Chorus! Next year’s festivities will be on November 28th, 2020.

TBCYC sings at Light Up Riverside 2019, Toronto

TBCYC sings at Light Up Riverside 2019

#RIVERSIDETO #WINDOWWONDERLAND CONTEST provided a lot of friendly competition this year and a great excuse to go all-out on gorgeous window displays! Instagrammers jumped on board and the top shot went to blair88 for Oma Chiropractic & Wellness’ window!  Then we upped the ante with a Best of Queen East competition with Leslieville and the Beach Village and had a win for Riverside’s Sash & Bustle Bridal Boutique’s whimsical window! Big thanks to everyone who took part in the fun- and congrats to the winners!

 

Window Wonderland 2019 Winner , Riverside, Toronto

Window Wonderland 2019 Winner , Riverside, Toronto

 

Sash and Bustle won in the Queen East Window Wonderland Contest, Riverside, Toronto 2019

Sash and Bustle won in the Queen East Window Wonderland Contest, Toronto 2019

RIVERSIDE ANTLER BREAKFAST raised over $7000 thanks to the hard work of the Antler Breakfast partners – the Ralph Thornton Community Centre, Toronto Food Tours, Rivertowne Safety 1st and the Riverside BIA – and the generosity of everyone in the community, with special thanks to our Santa level sponsor this year: Outline Financial. This fun community event has once again helped ensure the year-round operation of the local Rivertowne Breakfast Program for 2020!!!

Riverside Antler Breakfast, 2019, Toronto

Riverside Antler Breakfast, 2019, Toronto

We PAINTED the TOWN…with a NEW MURAL and POLE WRAPS:

RIVERSIDE BIA ‘ALQUIMIA’ MURAL added beautiful colour to the corner of Queen/Broadview thanks to artist Jacquie Comrie and a partnership with Pizza Nova at 714 Queen Street East and a grant from the City of Toronto’s Outdoor Street Art Program.

Riverside Alquimia Mural 2019, at 714 Queen St, Toronto

Riverside Alquimia Mural 2019, at 714 Queen St, Toronto

RIVERSIDE POLE WRAPS were implemented in 2019, as one of the ‘quick wins’ identified in the BIA’s new Streetscape Master Plan, and thanks to a Capital Cost-Share with the City of Toronto.

Riverside BIA-branded Hydro Poles Wraps, Toronto 2019

Riverside BIA-branded Hydro Poles Wraps, Toronto 2019 (Left to right: Riverside BIA Co-Chair Mitch Korman with installer from Street Graffiti Solutions)

NEW Businesses

From restaurants, to hair salons, spinning studios and tech companies to a full commercial bakery, Riverside BIA welcomed over 10 new businesses in 2019. Welcome: Indian Spice Room, Komplete Strength, Est Restaurant, The John, Oreya Studio, Good Karma, Nomad, Studio Lagree, Animal Liberation Kitchen, Blackbird Bakery and more!

Blackbird Baking Co. Opened in Riverside, 2019, Toronto

Blackbird Baking Co. Opened in Riverside, 2019, Toronto

We also saw some longstanding businesses move around in Riverside, with exciting upgrades in their new spaces such as Common Sort, Tiny Record Shop and Token.

We WON and WON!

No doubt Riverside BIA was award-winning in 2019:

*At Riverside BIA’s Annual AGM, special awards were given to Switchback Cyclery (Marketing), Pizza Nova (Streetscape), and Bergstrom Originals (Digital Marketing).

Riverside BIA Co-chair Rosie presented Marketing Award to Switchback Cyclery at 2019 AGM, Toronto

Riverside BIA Co-chair Rosie presented Marketing Award to Switchback Cyclery at 2019 AGM, Toronto

*At Light Up Riverside, Kristin Light was awarded the Jack Korman Memorial Award for outstanding volunteerism.

Kristin Light is presented with the Jack Korman Memorial Award by Director Dianna Kennedy, Toronto, 2019

Kristin Light is presented with the Jack Korman Memorial Award by Director Dianna Kennedy, Toronto, 2019

*At the 2019 TABIA Awards: the Riverside BIA won the Branding Award & Riverside BIA Co-Chair Mitchell Korman’s long-standing contributions were recognized with the Michael Comstock Community Builder Award!

Riverside BIA Won TABIa 2019 Branding Award (Left to Right: TABIA Chair; Jennifer Lay of Riverside BIA; Geo Conidis, Graphic Designer for Riverside; BIA Co-Chair Mitch Korman)

Riverside BIA Won TABIa 2019 Branding Award (Left to Right: TABIA Chair; Jennifer Lay of Riverside BIA; Geo Conidis, Graphic Designer for Riverside; BIA Co-Chair Mitch Korman)

Riverside BIA Co-Chair Mitch Korman received the 2019 TABIA Michael Comstock Community Builder Award

Riverside BIA Co-Chair Mitch Korman received the 2019 TABIA Michael Comstock Community Builder Award

Not to mention NOW Magazine Readers’ Choice Awards which saw many businesses based in Riverside beat out the competition!

Again, thanks to each and every one of you for your incredible support in 2019 and wishing everyone the best for a happy new year! Can’t wait for what 2020 will bring and what we will create as a team 🙂

Jennifer

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