“It will take a few more months and three or four more meetings run by the city before the BIA (Business Improvement Area) is completely up and running” on Bayview, says Trae Zammit, owner of The Smokin’ Cigar and a spokesperson for the steering committee.
“The current steering committee remains in place for the time being and, working with the city, we have to set the agenda, develop a budget, and identify individuals interested in serving on the executive committee. All owners and merchants within the catchment area (138, according to Zammit) will have a say on these things and a chance to vote.”
But now that the BIA has been approved they will all also have to pay the BIA fee. “We’ve talked about an annual budget in the range of $100,000,” said Zammit, “which would put us on the lower end among the 77 or 78 BIAs already in Toronto. The majority of the other BIAs have a budget bigger than that. “There is some flexibility in the formula determining how much each has to pay based on size of business and square footage, etc.”
The Leaside Property Owners’ Association has $25,000 to give the BIA after an agreement with SmartCentre North before it won city council approval for the development on Wicksteed east of Laird.
“The BIA can help area businesses in three main ways,” says Zammit. “By branding the neighbourhood and promoting it, by beautifying the streetscape, and by speaking with a collective voice to advocate on important local issues like parking.”
Another member of the steering committee is Stanley Janecek of White House Meats.
“I have another White House Meats location in Etobicoke, in the area of the Kingsway BIA,” says Janecek, “and I’ve seen how beneficial being part of a BIA can be in terms of marketing the area and putting on special events. This is a great opportunity for the businesses on Bayview to look at themselves and say, ‘How can we improve ourselves? How can we collectively make our stores and our neigh-bourhood into more of a destination?’”
One issue to be decided is what the BIA will be called. Both Zammit and Janecek favour Bayview Leaside. “Some have suggested South Bayview,” said Zammit, “but Bayview Ave. goes as far south as the new Athletes’ Village area so it’s not as clear as it could be. On the other hand, everyone knows exactly where you mean when you say, Bayview Leaside.”