West End BIAs do well at awards gala

Ronci, Islington, Kingsway, Bloor West all winners at inaugural presentation

At the first ever Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas Recognition Awards Night, west end BIAs successfully snatched up four awards.

The Roncesvalles Village Business Improvement Area received second place in the Perseverance category for enduring construction on Ronci from July of 2009 to June of this year, with grace and good spirits.

The TTC decided to replace the streetcar tracks on Roncesvalles Avenue and while the road was ripped up, work was also done on the sewer and water mains and the area was given a new streetscape.

“We’ve ended up with extensive sidewalks, approximately a hundred trees planted at grade in the sidewalk,” says Keith Denning, Roncesvalles Village’s coordinator. “Basically a street has been created that satisfies the needs of transit, car drivers, pedestrians, cyclists; it’s a win, but it took a long time.”

Denning says that it was tough for a lot of businesses in the area during the construction phase, where some stores were citing losses of 40 percent.

But the businesses on Roncesvalles Avenue are doing well by all reports now, according to Denning.

“Everyone is very relieved that it is over and I find my phone does not ring very often at all,” says Denning. “I think people are just busy making money.”

The Village of Islington BIA also took home second place in the Branding category for its heritage-inspired murals that have turned into an art walk on Dundas Street West, in between Islington and Kipling.

The project began in 2004 and since then has spawned a total of 22 murals, from various artists.

The hardest thing was to get wall owners to allow the BIA to put up the murals in the first place, says Linda Pedersen, the Village of Islington BIA’s marketing and relations manager.

“Without a reputation its hard to get people to trust you, but once we got a reputation it got easier,” says Pedersen.

The five-block art walk nestled among sidewalk space, coffee houses, shops and restaurants, will be getting two more murals by next year.

Another second place award, this time for the Festival category was taken home by the Kingsway BIA for their Taste of Kingsway festival.

This year marked the 14th year for the festival, which always happens the weekend after Labour Day. The event this year featured a culinary market, a theatre, celebrity chefs, including Rob Rainford, Jonathan Collins and Michael Clive, showcased among local chefs and businesses.

Kingsway’s chair, Laura Price, says she would estimate there to be approximately 250,000 plus people at the event.

“The streets seemed busier this year and we also had great weather,” says Price.

The Bloor West Village BIA was also recognized in the Environmental category for its installation of 60 solar-powered street lamps. The lamps were installed along the stretch between South Kingsway and Glendonwynne Road.

About this article:

By: Shaheer Choudhury
Posted: Nov 28 2011 6:57 pm
Filed in: NEWS
Edition: Toronto