I admit to a degree of unease in writing this article during the immense challenges of the Covid third wave. How best to apprise Leaside Life readers of Bayview Leaside BIA initiatives without seeming routine in a time that is anything but? With that acknowledged, I appreciate the opportunity to connect with you and want to thank you on behalf of the BIA Board of Management and member businesses for your continued support.
Our recent social media campaigns (“Buy Local or Goodbye Local”), contests and promotions have been very well received. We are heartened by the many compliments, ideas and offers of assistance received, and soon hope to introduce, as a “thank you” to our loyal neighbours, a BIA-branded tote bag. Stay tuned…we may need to access some of those offers of assistance to help with distribution, public health guidelines permitting, of course.
For the first time, the BIA has undertaken a spring planting initiative to help brighten the street and maintain a positive streetscape presence between our winter displays and much-admired summer planting program. Despite these difficult times, we are determined to maintain our reputation as a clean and attractive main street.
Further on the subject of streetscape, the City is planning to repave our section of Bayview Avenue in 2023. Originally, the project was set for 2022, but the BIA requested, and received, a one-year delay to allow our businesses more time to recover from Covid restrictions without the burden and disruption of a significant civil maintenance project. In addition, the BIA has requested the City consider, as part of the repaving project, reconstruction of the sidewalk on the west side of Bayview from Millwood to Hillsdale in order to introduce in-ground street trees – just like the east side – and remove the existing tree boxes, which are impediments to pedestrian movement, street maintenance and snow clearing. We await the City’s decision on this matter.
The BIA continues to work with new developments, both proposed and under construction, particularly with respect to the design of the commercial platforms and adjacent streetscape. Integrating new developments into traditional main street environments is challenging. We consistently stress the importance of vibrant commercial façades that build upon the BIA’s reputation as an engaging place to explore, and have offered to contribute BIA benches as part of the streetscape designs.
I wish I could close by announcing the date of our fall Apple Fest event, but that is just not in the cards at present. While we wait for the time when we can come together on Bayview again, please continue to shop online or by phone for curbside pickup; order takeout and delivery; purchase a gift card for beauty products and personal services; and participate in online wellness and personal improvement classes. Keep our businesses in mind when buying for yourself and others. If we all pitch in now, our main street – so vital to our neighbourhoods – will bounce back strong when reopening occurs…and it will.
Henry Byres is the Coordinator, Bayview Leaside Business Improvement Area.