What is a Business Improvement Area?

Bloor West Flower Shop
Creative Commons License photo credit: srossi

Helping things to bloom in Bloor West Village

The BIA concept began in Toronto. The first BIA – and still one of the most successful – was Bloor West Village, established in 1970. Toronto now has Toronto has 64 BIAs.  Most BIA’s are composed of strip high street retailers providing a great basket of services, retailers who have little in common with chain stores.  Looking at the Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas web site, …the association of Toronto BIA’s. maybe their union? …you can see the vast array of events and efforts they put forth. All this effort is in aid of business success –  in sales, but most often their efforts contribute towards a community. Yet many residents in a lot of Toronto communities neither know little, nor care about their local BIA. While researching this post, it interestingly became apparent that the Bloor West Village BIA (the 1st one and one of the most successful) seemed to have a high connection to the residence community.

More info about BIA’s in Toronto and what everyone wants to know, where does their money come from…

City text…

Business Improvement Areas (BIAs) are geographic zones that are established to
promote designated areas as business or shopping locales. BIAs may undertake projects
to improve, beautify and maintain City-owned land or structures within the boundaries of
the BIA, and thus provide benefits to the member property owners and businesses, as
well as adjacent residential neighbourhoods. BIAs are governed by a Board of
Management and established by by-law. The operations of a BIA are funded through an
annual levy, which is billed and collected in a similar manner to property taxes, on all
commercial and industrial property owners (i.e. business properties) within the BIA.

What is the average annual levy of a Toronto BIA member?

Every business member is charged a share of the annual budget, based on that member’s share of the BIA’s total commercial realty assessment.

For example: If a business’s commercial realty assessment is 6,000, the total commercial realty assessment of all businesses in the BIA is 2,000,000, and the BIA’s annual budget is $100,000, then that business’s BIA levy is:

6,000 X $100,000

= $300 average amount a business pays as a BIA levy


Data TABIA (see link below)

Assessment Appeal Provision for Business
Improvement Areas staff action report [opens in new window]

TABIA Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas web site [opens in new window]

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