By Al Ruggero
The cusp of a new year is just around the corner, so it’s customary to reflect on the past year’s accomplishments with a view toward what we hope to see in the coming year.
First, a bit of a primer on what we do and who we are. The Emery Village Business Improvement Area (EVBIA) is a city-affiliated agency operating since 2003. The BIA represents a significant employment area from Steeles Avenue to the north, Highway 401 to the south, Highway 400 to the east, and our western boundary reaching Islington Avenue at Millwick Drive and Satterly Road. By land, the EVBIA is Canada’s largest and, under the province’s Growth Plan, is designated as a Provincial Significant Employment Zone (PSEZ). The membership comprises of more than 3,200 businesses and business property owners represented by a Board of Management whose term of office runs four years in conjunction with the municipal election cycle. Our local councillor, Anthony Perruzza (Humber River-Black Creek), is a member of the board, representing the city’s role, along with ex-officio representatives from Toronto’s Economic Development Division.
Traditionally the role of the BIA is to bring about business-related community improvements and capital works that typically exceed the standard streetscape and boulevard treatments accorded most city streets, roadways, and boulevards. In addition, the BIA coordinates programs, events, communication, and media activity to assist our businesses in meeting challenges and building sustainability. At the same time, they provide employment and needed investments in our communities.
The past year has seen a continuation of many of the COVID-19 challenges from previous years. Finch West LRT construction created bottlenecks on our streets, and the city’s resource allocation toward Covid measures has delayed planned capital work projects from either completion or start-up. Covid has also impacted projects such as the Finch-West Goods Movement Study - partially funded by Emery Village and Duke Heights BIAs along with the City’s transportation department - which has been delayed with a new release in 2023.
The BIA continued with most of its initiatives, including policy advocacy on behalf of employers with both the city and the provincial government.
Some of the other programs the BIA launched or promoted included:
• WSIB webinars for workplace training for the prevention of on-the-job violence and harassment
• Sponsored and promotion of Covid 19 vaccination and boosters mobile clinics that traveled to participating workplaces.
• Extended hours public vaccination clinics for employees unavailable during the day.
• Continuing cooperation with 31 Division and the Community Liaison Committee on crime reduction and awareness.
• Renewal of a mobile security program with alarm response and regular and site-specific patrols.
• Participated in the Toronto Plaza shelter program and community safety meetings.
• Ongoing advocacy on behalf of businesses with Metrolinx and the LRT constructor Mosaic Transit on the issues and traffic impacts as the construction progresses along Finch
The BIA agenda for the new year includes several projects that continue the work of bringing streetscape improvements to other parts of the BIA. At the same time, the completion of the LRT will see the introduction of street furnishing, pedestrian lighting, pavers, banners and benches, and placemaking along a revitalized Finch corridor. As 2023 progresses, the BIA will be pleased to share information on progress through regular updates.
Al Ruggero is Project Manager at the Emery Village BIA and can be reached at: Al@emeryvillagebia.ca