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Trying again to get a BIA on Bayview

Bayview merchants took one step closer to trying to form a Business Improvement Area (BIA) on May 30.

Over 20 store owners at a meeting at Originals Bar formed a potential steering committee: Trae Zammitt The Smokin’ Cigar), Raymond Gork (Leaside Paint), Seta Danielman (Dolce & Gourmando), Stanley Janecek (White House Meats), Jesse Sadhra (The Bagel House), Photis Philos (Bell Jewellers), Rob Tremblett (Valu-Mart) and Roland Tan (Rumah Tangga).

The meeting was convened by Councillor John Parker. He said Councillor Josh Matlow, who represents the west side of Bayview, was supportive.

“It’s essential it happens otherwise Bayview will be left behind,” says Ray Gork.

“The big box stores on Laird are a concern. They have a tendency to suck people off the street.”

However, he says, “For as long as I have been in business I’ve been in competition with the big box stores.  The biggest concern is the ample parking the big box stores offer.”

Virginia Evoy, special assistant to Councillor Parker as liaison with the merchants, says the “process of implementing a BIA is more difficult now than formerly, when only 30 percent needed to be in favour. Now 50 percent plus one is required.” She says that this past spring Parker decided to try to push for creation of the BIA.

“I have always been of the view that the will has to come from the businesses themselves,” says Parker.  “It has also been clear to me that the will is there. But it also became clear that the whole process might benefit from a further, more direct, nudge from me to translate that willingness into action.

“For that reason I have made it a priority to take the matter in hand and see if I can’t finally bring the right local leadership together and get the job done.”

Michael Saunders, from the Toronto Economic Development and Culture department, was at the meeting to answer questions.

“There was a meeting two years ago and nothing went forward. If they’re going to do it—do it. If they say they’re not going to do it—then don’t do it,” says Domenic Badali, of Badali Fruit Market.

Councillor Parker urged the group to put in an application to the city by the end of June.