About The Waterfront BIA
Established in 2004, The Waterfront Business Improvement Area (WBIA), is the voice of the Waterfront’s business community. Toronto’s WBIA is a community-driven organization dedicated to promoting and enhancing the economic and cultural vitality of the Waterfront area. The WBIA welcomes 17 million visitors annually with a service area population of 59,251 and growing rapidly. 68% of the area’s residents are under the age of 45, are university educated, have an average household income of $135,901, and walk to work.
Unlike most Toronto BIAs, The Waterfront BIA is both a full-service residential area and a tourist destination, ranking second in every major tourist category – domestic and international, pleasure and business, first-time and repeat. Through marketing and promotion, special events, streetscape enhancement, strategic planning and advocacy initiatives, the WBIA continues to secure its position as one of Toronto’s premier destinations. Annual programs include the Waterfront Artisan Market, Redpath Waterfront Festival, Waterfront Singing AmbassadorsTM and Ice Breakers produced by Winter Stations.
The Waterfront BIA has been the proud recipient of the Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas (TABIA) Awards in 2011, 2013, 2014 and 2015, as well as the 2015 Downtown Merit Award from the International Downtown Association (IDA) and the Award of Distinction from the 2016 BIA National Conference Awards.
Our Strategic Objectives
- Enhance the street experience to reflect the Waterfront’s regional stature.
- Connect uses, people and public spaces to build the Waterfront as a cohesive and supportive community.
- Collaborate with partners to acquire and retain a vibrant mix of retail that encourages lingering by locals and tourists alike.
- Attract more people to the Waterfront area by presenting year-round programming and activations.
- Implement evidence-based decision-making as part of best-practice Board governance.
Click here to find out who provides what City services.
The Event Committee
The Event Committee is a volunteer committee composed of BIA members and staff who make recommendations to the Board regarding festivals and events on the Waterfront. Committee members focus upon the impact to the overall community, successes and challenges, and growth opportunities. Let’s have a look back at our Festivals and Events Highlights.
The Area Planning Committee
The Area Planning Committee is a volunteer group made up of BIA members that communicate with local stakeholders and continue to monitor and advise the Board regarding area development, points of issue, and our place within the larger footprint of Toronto’s Downtown core. If you are interested in joining our committees, please contact the BIA office.
What is a BIA?
A Business Improvement Area (BIA) is an association of commercial property owners and tenants within a defined area who work in partnership with the City to create thriving, competitive, and safe business areas that attract shoppers, diners, tourists, and new businesses. By working collectively, local business have the organizational and funding capacity to be catalysts for civic improvement, enhancing the quality of life in their local neighbourhood and the City as a whole. Toronto now boasts a total of 82 BIAs, representing more than 35,000 businesses – the largest number of BIAs in North America. The world’s first BIA was started in Toronto in 1970. Since then, this innovative public-private partnership model has been copied internationally. Focusing on street/sidewalk beautification, marketing and promotional campaigns, street festivals, clean street/graffiti-removal campaigns, and crime prevention strategies, BIAs also act as a unified voice to address issues on behalf of their membership. BIA members employ more than 400,000 people in full-time and part-time positions. Over 7.4 million people attend the more than 160 community events and street festivals supported and produced by BIAs throughout the year. Source: City of Toronto website.
What are the benefits of a BIA?
In order to help local commercial areas create thriving, competitive and safe business areas, the City of Toronto, through the Economic Development & Culture Division, offers a number of assistance programs to BIAS. One of the more successful programs offered by our BIA Office is the Capital Cost-share Program, which provides matching funding to our BIA partners for streetscape beautification projects. These projects help tame our busy streets and improve the quality of place in our neighbourhoods. In 2011, Council approved almost $3.5 million towards BIA beautification projects. Financial assistance is also provided to BIAs to implement mural projects and commercial facade improvements. Toronto BIAs are also members of an umbrella organization called the Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas (TABIA). TABIA encourages and facilitates the exchange of information, experiences, and ideas among BIAs; advocates on behalf of BIAs to influence government policy; helps obtain funding for programs and services for BIAs; and offers discount and savings programs for its members, such as preferred Merchant Visa and MasterCard rates.
How does a BIA work?
A BIA is run by a volunteer Board of Management elected from its members. The Board is nominated at an Annual General Meeting and, once approved by City Council, serves a four-year term concurrent with the term of Council. The Board works on behalf of its BIA and meets regularly to develop budgets, set priorities, implement capital improvements, plan festivals, and promote its business area.
Who are BIA members?
All persons who own rateable property in the area that is in a business property class, commercial and industrial tenants of the property and non-residential tenants who are occupying rateable property; and recent purchasers of property in the area that is in a business property class, but not assessed on the last returned assessment roll, and commercial and industrial tenants of the property, and non-residential tenants who are occupying rateable property, if the recent purchasers produce evidence of property ownership satisfactory to the Chief Financial Officer.
How is a BIA funded?
Once the budget is approved by the BIA members and ratified by City Council, funds are raised through a levy on all commercial and industrial properties within the BIA’s boundary. Calculation of this levy is based on the proportionate value of each property’s commercial and/or industrial assessment. Once the levy is collected by the City, the funds are returned to the BIA to manage.
Boundaries of The Waterfront BIA
Click here to expand, download or print BIA map.