Looking back at 2020 with the Emery Village BIA

By Al Ruggero

As we approach the end of the year, it is without a doubt that no one will forget 2020. Most of all, we can begin to celebrate (in our bubbles, of course) the fantastic news that the new year will bring us closer to the end of our tribulations as the miraculous vaccines reach more of the population. For the present, steady is the course as we continue with public health measures in place.

In this age of social distancing and self-isolation, we’ve had to adapt our means of keeping in touch. This newspaper has been vital in keeping our community informed and in touch with developments as well as the stories of Emery residents.

Like most Business Improvement Areas in the City of Toronto, communication became a key priority for the Emery Village BIA to ensure that we hear from and help our members throughout the year. The staff have been participating in city wide efforts to amplify the concerns and the needs of our small businesses for government leaders and decision-makers. The Emery Village BIA sponsored a first Virtual Town Hall featuring Councillor Anthony Perruzza, MPP Tom Rakocevic and, the Hon. Judy Sgro where they had an opportunity to answer questions from numerous callers. In the course of the year, the BIA website became a portal leading the way for members to see the array of government programs aimed at the COVID-19 crisis and provided businesses with “Tool Kits” to help them tackle the pandemic crisis.

Staff participated in comprehensive city initiatives, meetings, and surveys to protect jobs and small businesses at the core of our communities. The BIA also launched a pivotal study to ensure that future development in our business zone is governed by policies that protect jobs and employment districts while creating amenable and sustainable environments.

We continued to look at transportation issues, including the design work and progress of the Finch West LRT. Our joint project with the City of Toronto and Duke Heights BIA to shape recommendations for Goods Movement through our industrial and commercial zones gained further traction toward completion in the next year. Other initiatives involved promoting pedestrian and cycling safety, street beautification projects, and a shop local social media campaign. We were the first BIA in the city - and indeed the province - to launch a COVID-19 Workplace Safety Course for Employers and Employees. The program’s goal is to provide training and certification for business operators, staff, and customers creating safe conditions for re-opening and draw customers back to our shops and places of business.

Lastly, we were able to successfully complete two quite major streetscape projects along Steeles and at Weston Road and Fenmar Drive.

We look forward to the New Year with much anticipation and planning for the road ahead. On behalf of everyone at the Emery Village BIA, we wish you a safe and happy holiday season, and may the New Year bring us all back better than ever.