The Bloor-Yorkville Business Improvement Area (BIA) was founded on July 22, 1985 and currently has a membership of nearly 1400 businesses.
Our area ranges from Church Street to the west side of Avenue Road and from Scollard Street to Charles Street.
Any business occupying commercial space within our boundaries is automatically a BIA member, if they pay commercial property taxes (which includes a levy to fund the BIA).
The Bloor-Yorkville BIA has completed many projects under the leadership of the voluntary Board of Directors with the assistance of the BIA office staff. These projects add to the vibrancy and popularity of the neighbourhood, providing visitors with a welcoming experience. Noteworthy projects include:
• The addition of over 230 decorative light posts with seasonal hanging basket arrangements
• The transformation of the Bloor Street corridor with seasonal gardens, decorative lighting, mature trees and granite paving
• Refurbishing Yorkville Avenue with herringbone patterned paving, stones, new planters and benches
• The creation and management of successful annual events including Bloor-Yorkville Icefest, Yorkville Exotic Car Show, and Holiday Magic. Community event partnerships include Toronto Fashion Week, TD Toronto Jazz Festival, B&O Yorkville Run, Bloor Street Entertains and Toronto Santa Speedo Run.
• The creation of PR and social media campaigns to ensure locals and visitors are aware of what’s happening throughout the neighbourhood
The BIA regularly advocates on behalf of the community in order to mitigate issues, which could negatively impact business. New developments and anything that impacts traffic flow are a focus.
Valentine Lovekin | Chair
Ron Palmer | Vice Chair / PPUD Committee Chair
Bob Saunderson | Past Chair
Scott Harris | Promotions & Communications Chair
Dr. David Homer | Secretary/Traffic Committee Chair
Dr. Christena Chruszez
Mike Layton | Toronto City Councillor Ward 11, Toronto University-Rosedale
Kristyn Wong-Tam | Toronto City Councillor Ward 13 Toronto Centre
The BIA has several Committees including:
Promotions and Communications Committee (P&C)
Planning, Preservation and Urban Design Committee (PPUD)
Urban Mobility & Safety Committee
1200 Bay Street Suite 310
Toronto, ON M5R 2A5
Briar de Lange
Director of Marketing
Streetscape and Operations Manager
Communications & Marketing Coordinator
The Bloor-Yorkville BIA was created to develop and implement streetscape beautification and promotional programs to increase awareness and tourism in the area. These projects are financed through a levy applied to all businesses occupying commercial space, located within the geographical boundaries of the BIA. The administration of these programs and projects are the responsibility of the volunteer Board of Management and their staff.
To improve, beautify and maintain municipally-owned lands, buildings, and structures beyond such improvement, beautification and maintenance provided by the City of Toronto. To promote the Bloor-Yorkville Business Improvement Area as a business and shopping destination.
Founded in 1830, by entrepreneur Joseph Bloor (after whom Bloor Street, one of Toronto’s main thoroughfares, is named), the Village of Yorkville began as a residential suburb with two main industries, the first being the Yorkville Brick Yards, in today’s Ramsden Park, which manufactured Yorkville’s famous yellow brick and can be seen at the historic Yorkville Firehall on Yorkville Avenue. The second industry was beer making, with breweries such as The Severn Brewery and the Joseph Bloor Brewery.
The Village of Yorkville was incorporated in 1853 and later annexed by the City of Toronto, in 1883, but the neighbourhood’s Victorian-style homes, quiet residential streets and picturesque gardens survived into the 20th century.
In the 1960s, Yorkville was shabby and run down, yet flourished as Toronto’s bohemian cultural centre. It was the breeding ground for some of Canada’s most noted musical talents, including Joni Mitchell, Neil Young and Gordon Lightfoot, as well as then-underground literary figures such as Margaret Atwood, Gwendolyn MacEwen and Dennis Lee. Yorkville was known as the Canadian capital of the hippie movement. The youth of the day, would flock to Yorkville’s famous coffees houses such as the Purple Onion and The Myna Bird to hang out and be inspired by the talent, which resonated between the walls of these establishments. Love-ins and poetry readings went on at all hours of the day.
Major changes began to take place during the 1970’s and into the 1980’s, as many high end Bloor Street businesses such as Harry Rosen, Holt Renfrew, Creeds and international designer brands began to attract chic boutiques, cafes, first class art galleries and salons to the area; the famous coffee houses faded into the past. Numerous office towers took over Bloor Street and other major corridors, where various low rise buildings once existed.
During the 1980’s, Bloor-Yorkville also saw residential changes, as the condominium trend started in Toronto and several were built on Bay and Bloor streets. An economic slump in the early 90’s slowed construction, but by the mid 90’s the condominium market soared to satisfy a pent up demand for residential units and the trend has continued.
With so many substantial changes ongoing, it was a welcome change to the concrete and glass facades, when the installation of the award-winning Village of Yorkville Park took place in 1993, whereby the Joni Mitchell song, which references ‘turning a park into a parking lot’ was reversed and a beautiful gem of a ‘park was placed where a parking lot’ once existed. The park, located at Cumberland Street and Bellair Street is enjoyed by city dwellers, office workers and tourists alike.
In 2010, the Bloor-Yorkville BIA completed the Bloor Street Transformation project which has resulted in a vibrant commercial area, which is pedestrian friendly and provides a stimulating oasis to all those who stroll its boulevards. The BIA also completed a streetscape revitalization of Yorkville Avenue, which has created a quaint and charming atmosphere, which is inviting to all who visit this neighbourhood.