THE FIRST OF ITS KIND!
How did the local businesses of Bloor West protect themselves from the rise of commercial shopping malls?
They planted trees, lit up the streets with the warm glow of string lights, and planned festivals to draw in visitors to the neighborhood. Little did they know, their plans would spark the creation of a ground-breaking concept — a novel strategy for creating and maintaining a vibrant main street: the first Business Improvement Area.
As the first of its kind, Bloor West Village BIA has gone on to inspire over 85 BIAs across Canada, the USA, Germany and Japan.
WHAT IS A BIA?
A Business Improvement Area (BIA) is a non-profit association that supports a specific area, like Bloor West Village in Toronto. A BIA comes together after getting the official approval of the city. The main aim of a BIA is to create a self-run program to help support local businesses and beautify the area.
Here’s how it works: the city collects an annual levy from local stores and service providers. They then hand this money over to an elected board of volunteers. The board then invests these funds into local marketing, event planning, and street upkeep.
How did the BIA transform Bloor West Street?
Overhauling the aesthetic
Boarded-up stores and peeling paint — how could a small neighborhood compete with the luxe aesthetic of the new shopping malls?
The BIA dug into its funds to completely change Bloor West’s look. Wildflower planters. New spaces for stores, offices and homes. And benches to soak up the growing ambiance of the tree-lined streets. The beautiful new look quickly enticed visitors back to the neighborhood.
Going all in on local advertising
To help drive new business to the local area in the 1970s, the BIA stepped up its local marketing and promos. The buzz spread throughout the neighborhoods, slowly transforming Bloor West into one of the most popular areas in Toronto. 54 years later, we’re still investing in new ways to promote our unique mix of independent businesses — from local events to Instagram snaps.
One of Toronto’s favorite neighborhoods for one-stop-shopping (and eating!)
Bloor West Village’s eclectic village vibe has fueled its popularity among the residents of the GTA and visitors from around the world. You can explore over 400+ businesses in our charming neighborhood. You’ll find award-winning restaurants, one-of-a-kind boutiques, over 43 beauty health, wellness professional services, and a host of eclectic food markets.
Few neighborhoods can match the variety, charm or convenience of our European-style village. Know just what you’re looking for? Head over to our Business Directory to find a complete list of local services, shops, bars, and eateries. Our local businesses love being part of the first BIA in Canadian history and our growing vibrant main street.
From brunch spots to bookstores — how many of your new favorite places will you find when you visit?
You’ll find our ‘Small Village in a Big City’ just a few minutes from downtown Toronto — jump on the Bloor subway line and come for a visit.
SELF-CARE THE DAY AWAY
Catch up with friends over some hearty Italian comfort food at Queen’s Learn more
A FAMILY ADVENTURE
Fresh OJ, airy pancakes, and bacon stacks — start your day with breakfast at the buzzy Sunshine Village Grill. Learn more