A Business Improvement Area (BIA) is an association of business people within a specified district who join together, with official approval of the City, in a self-help program aimed at stimulating local business. They use their own money in an ongoing effort to draw more prospective customers to their area by improving the attractiveness of the area and promoting it as a good place to shop, visit and do business. Once a BIA is approved by City Council, every business within its boundaries automatically becomes a member. There are no exceptions, under the principle that all who benefit should be required to bear their fair share of the cost of the program.
Each BIA is administered by a volunteer Board of Management, made up of members of that BIA who are elected by their fellow BIA members and approved by City Council. The City Councillor(s) of the Ward(s) in which the BIA is located also serves ex officio as a member of the Board. Each year the Board proposes a program of activities and a budget to cover estimated expenses, which is voted on by all the BIA members present at their Annual General Meeting.
Our BIA was established in August of 1981 as the Danforth Village Business Improvement Area. The petition circulated among area business people at the time showed 8 to 1 in favour of participating in the City’s BIA program. At that time the City of Toronto’s Planning and Development Department surveyed the area merchants and discovered some interesting facts:
- 41% of these merchants owned the property where the business was located
- 54% of the Danforth’s merchants lived in the City’s east end or in East York
- 59% had been in business at their current locations for four or more years
- 68% would be classed as small, “mom & pop” operations employing four or less staff
In the Fall of 1981, a competition was held at Danforth Technical School asking the students to design a branding logo for Danforth Village with first prize winning $75, second prize winning $50 and the third runner up getting $25. In February of 1982, Ms. Helen Panopoulos’ design, which was inspired by the splendour of ancient Greece, was given the honour and her Doric columns and laurel leaves became the official logo. In the Summer of 1982, the street signs in our BIA were replaced with the bilingual, colourful and distinctive blue and white signs that featured the street names in both Greek and English.
In the 1970s and early 1980s, our area was considered the largest GreekTown in North America and had one of the highest concentrations of Hellenic immigrants living outside of Greece. As a tribute to our rich Hellenic heritage, the BIA Board of Management lobbied City Hall and in June of 1993, the name of our Business Improvement Area was officially changed to GreekTown on the Danforth. A new logo shortly thereafter completed the transformation.
An active and effective BIA benefits not only the business community, but the surrounding neighbourhood and the City as well. It serves as an economic and social anchor for the surrounding neighbourhood and helps to stabilize and add vitality to the local community. As one of Toronto’s most vibrant and cosmopolitan neighbourhoods, GreekTown on the Danforth offers something for everyone on a year round basis–great food, great shopping, great entertainment and a great place to spend some time. We invite you to visit us and experience our warm and friendly hospitality!