Riverside BIA: Reflecting on 2017, Welcoming 2018!

As I write this note, we have just completed the last of the Riverside BIA’s many annual events. It’s one of the most near and dear to me and, I know, to many of you: the Riverside Antler Breakfast. This event embodies all that is great about this wonderful, warm and hard-working community – our teamwork, our drive and our humanity – always striving for better in all we do, giving back, going above and beyond, and working together to make it happen. In 2017, these efforts have continued to make the Riverside neighbourhood a welcoming place, for people of all ages, abilities, and backgrounds.

When this hits your inbox, the Riverside BIA office team will be off recharging for some much needed R&R so we can come back refreshed for another incredible year of public programming and community improvements. I wanted to take this moment to express thanks and reflect on the past year.

First and foremost, 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. Thanks to: Mitch Korman of Korman and Company, who is our long-standing Chair and son of the original BIA founder Jack Korman; Natasha Varjacic, of Nell & Natasha’s Real Estate Homeward Brokerage who is our Secretary; Ryan Nelson of Hullmark Development, who is our Treasurer; Adrienne McRuvie, of Oma Chiropractic & Wellness Centre; Athena Ellinas Towers, of The Opera House; Rosie Little Jeffares, of Quince Flowers; Dave Watson, of Eastbound Brewing Co; Ellen Davidson, of Dimensions Custom Framing & Gallery, and our local Councillor Paula Fletcher.

Also a big thanks to the 2017 members of our Marketing Committee and Streetscape Committee, also 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.

RIVERSIDE WINEFEST launched the Riverside BIA’s annual calendar of public programming, drawing over 1,500 people to Riverside restaurants, shops, services and community spaces, and raising $1,000 for the Ralph Thornton Community Centre. Thanks to our 2017 Riverside Winefest supporters: Sugar Loaf Bakery & Cafe (food sponsor), Toronto Food Tours, and Team Sheppard RE/MAX! (pictured above: Megan Sheppard of Team Sheppard RE/MAX with Riverside BIA Chair Mitch Korman). I’m pleased to announce our 2018 event (coming up April 3rd – 7th!) will continue it’s focus on Ontario wine but add a craft beer element, thanks to partnerships with Riverside’s new breweries, Eastbound and Saulter Street!
RIVERSIDE WALKS drew crowds of people to on Saturdays from May to October. Fifteen separate walks were run, drawing more than 1,200 people, thanks to our fearless walk leaders: Ron Fletcher, Megan Sheppard, Danette Steele, Manu Kabahizi, Barry Slater, and Nishta Saxena. Special thanks to our 2017 Walks sponsor Team Sheppard RE/MAX! I’m happy to confirm Team Sheppard will be back on board for 2018, and we’ve got some great new walks planned, along with the traditional favourites 😉
LAUNCH OF THE BROADVIEW HOTEL was celebrated on July 27th by the Riverside community and Toronto. The hotel has already helped transform the landscape of the neighbourhood for the better as a popular establishment, an important landmark, and a great community partner to boot!

RIVERSIDE EATS & BEATS ‘CELEBRATES 150’ was a hit, thanks to the fabulous participation of so many Riverside BIA members; great partners like the Indigenous & Ingenious Show and Sale, our generous sponsors Downtown Automotive Group, BMO, and Hullmark, and a grant from the Government of Ontario’s 150 Celebration Program! Looking forward to another great festival, coming up Saturday, June 2nd, 2018, with some big plans in the works! 

RIVERSIDE MAGAZINE shone in 2017 thanks to a fabulous cover, highlighting the illuminated Broadview Hotel (photo credit to Giancarlo Pawelec, graphic design by geocdesign) and some great content by our editorial team. The 2018 Riverside Magazine will take it to the next level – check out the media kit and let us know if you’d like to be a part of this exciting publication!

RIVERSIDE BIA PLANTERS: The BIA’s 23 street planters looked fresh all year thanks to a new partnership with social enterprise Parkdale GreenthumbThey’ll be back in the neighbourhood making our planters beautiful in 2018! The BIA also has big plans to transform the Riverside BIA street scape through a Master Planning process in 2018 – stay tuned!

TKARONTO PAST, TKARONTO FUTURE MURAL  was launched in August on the walls of Woodgreen Community Services, thanks to a wonderful partnership with Indigenous artists (pictured above: Odinamaad, Chief Lady Bird and Dave Monday Oguorie) and support from Cultural Hotspot, City of Toronto, StreetART Toronto, Canada 150, Ontario 150, and the Riverside BIA. This mural has brought much meaning and connection to the Indigenous community and we are truly honoured to have this beautiful public art.

RIVERSIDE’S PARTNERSHIP WITH DIGITAL MAIN STREET (DMS) provided lots of benefits to Riverside businesses, with hands-on 1:1 support, access to in-class training and $2500 grants from qualifying businesses to implement digital plans (pictured above at the DMS Camp Tech – from Left: me, Ashley from White Lily Diner, Laura from LabCreative, Jen from Healthy Whey, Sinead from Irish Design House, and Avery from Camp Tech). Thanks to the positive feedback we received from Riverside BIA members, we will be investing in 2018 to bring back the DMS squad for more in-house support – stay tuned!

RIVERSIDE BIA BROUGHT NUIT BLANCHE TO TORONTO’S EAST for the first time, thanks to a partnership with Streetcar Developments, ERA Architects, the City of Toronto, and artists Rosie Little Jeffares, Nadine Bariteau, Calen Schaub, and the Wiggly Artist Collective – featuring five large-scale exhibits, thanks to the support of many local businesses and volunteers.

RIVERSIDE BIA’s 2017 ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING was a great time to celebrate the year’s accomplishments and get agreement on forging ahead with an ambitious program in 2018. Special recognition was given to our 2017 Marketing Awardee: I’ll Be Seeing You Bar; and our Streetscape Awardee: The Broadview Hotel (pictured above: me, our Board Chair Mitch, Board member Rosie, and Murray, GM of The Broadview Hotel). This was the BIA’s 37th AGM and going strong!!

RIVERSIDE BIA FACADE IMPROVEMENTS completed in 2017 are making the community a brighter place, thanks to investments by Riverside BIA member businesses and the City of Toronto. For example, the BIA celebrated with long-time member, Baird MacGregor Insurance LP, which received a $12,500 grant from the City to support their over $100,000 investment in their facade renewal (pictured above is Baird MacGregor CEO Philomena Comerford at middle, with Councillor Fletcher and BIA Chair Mitch). The City will be inviting a new round of Facade Grant Applications in early 2018 – stay tuned for details!

RIVERSIDE HALLOWEEN was super popular (as always!) and big thanks to Nell & Natasha’s Real Estate Homeward, Jimmie Simpson Rec Centre and all the Riverside businesses that take part to make this an always super fun event (pictured above is David from The Arts Market in Ghostbuster gear)! Can’t wait to see all the creative costumes when the Kiddie Costume Parade is back on October 27th, 2018!

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 which were truly a joy! Special thanks to our Light Up Riverside sponsors Baird MacGregor Insurance Brokers LP and Gillis & Kennedy RE/MAX! (Pictured above, the BIA awarded the 2017 Jack Korman Memorial Award to outstanding Volunteer Giancarlo Pawelec – second from left beside our Councillor Paula Fletcher). Can’t wait for next year’s event on November 24th!
#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 (literally!) to take the top shot 🙂 Big thanks to everyone who took part in the fun, and congrats to the winners!
RIVERSIDE ANTLER BREAKFAST raised thousands of dollars 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: Jason Friesen Mortgage. This fun community event has once again helped ensure the year-round operation of the local Rivertowne Breakfast Program in 2018!!! Final total raised to be announced in early 2018 -stay tuned!
Again, thanks to each and every one of you for your incredible support in 2017 and wishing everyone the best for a happy new year!