What’s a BIA?

A BIA as defined by the City of Toronto website:

“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.

While a BIA arises from the retail and professional activities of a main street, it has a profound effect on the surrounding area. It serves as an economic and social anchor, helping to stabilize and revitalize the local community.”

What is the Leslieville BIA?

Other than being Toronto’s most amazing community, the Leslieville BIA is a collection of the finest and most passionate businesses and property owners around! 220 of them to be specific. The BIA’s goal is to identify and amplify the business community’s message!

Leslieville is an amazing place with tons of local home based businesses as well as a ton of entrepreneurial spirit along Carlaw (north of Queen) but the Leslieville BIA only includes businesses along our ‘Main’ Street: Queen Street! From Booth Ave (by Jimmie Simpson Park) at the West all the way East to Vancouver Ave.


Need us to spell it out for you? Fine!

Leslieville is:

  • Supportive; we support one another (biz:biz; resident:resident; resident:biz; biz:resident)
  • Creative
  • Authentic
  • ‘Cheeky’; a little bit ‘plucky’
  • A little town in a big city
  • ‘Artsy’
  • Very inclusive
  • Very ‘aware’
  • ‘Variety’

How is the Leslieville BIA Funded?

Good question! All BIA’s are funded by a special charge levied on commercial property tax bills. Once the BIA is voted in by a business community, every single commercial property pays their proportionate share of the levy. Some landlords pass on the cost to their commercial tenants while others absorb the cost. It would depend on how the “TMI” portion of a commercial lease is handled.

Important to note is that the Leslieville BIA has one of the smallest annual operating budgets, yet we manage to deliver some pretty awesome programming to the community every year. We’re very excited to continue to expand on our events and local promotions as we grow as a BIA.

What does the Leslieville BIA even do?

After the board members are done pilfering the annual budget we then look at what’s left and get to work! Ok ok joking about the pilfering! There is no pilfering allowed. Message us to view our official “no pilfering” policy.


Seriously though, here’s what the Leslieville BIA does.

  1. We host amazing events to mobilize the community. Think: Wanderlust
  2. We’re champions of Leslieville at the highest possible level. #eastendlove
  3. We support local business owners. In all aspects from how to navigate complicated permitting processes, ensuring compliance with signage, to help with marketing efforts with our partnerships with amazing groups like Digital Main Street.
  4. We work with local councillors to help address BIA member concerns.

I'm new to the BIA. How do I register for updates and get listed?

If your biz is located along Queen St. E. between Vancouver and Booth Avenues, you are already a member of the BIA!  Of course, over the years, local biz’s move in and out.  Perhaps you are one who is taking over a space?  First thing to do, is call or email our coordinator here:  647-550-8835 or leslievillebia@gmail.com.  From there, we’ll obtain your contact info and biz description and post this info on our website directory.  Also, by emailing our coordinator, you are automatically added to the BIA members-only mailing list, so you won’t miss a thing.  We also encourage our BIA members to subscribe to our BIA members-only Facebook page, where you can get in on the latest conversation.  Go here to subscribe.  The website will include back copies of Board-approved monthly BIA Board meeting minutes*, so you can stay up to date on official business that way.  All BIA Board meetings are open for all to attend and observe, and are generally scheduled the 3rd Wednesday of the month at 9:00 a.m.  Venues change, so contact the coordinator to be sure where to go.

*Please note: Every month, the Board approves the previous month’s minutes, so if you’re looking online for the latest set, and they seem a month behind, it’s because of this approval process. Similarly, Annual General Meeting minutes are a year behind, because – you guessed it – they’re not approved by the Membership till one full year later at that AGM. Make sense?

How do I open a business?

If you’re reading this, your business is well on its way, but in this section, we’ll provide you with some helpful links.


311 – Never underestimate the power of calling 311.  Seriously.  It’s our own go-to regarding City rules, regulations, questions, complaints.  Gone are the days of being put on hold forever only to be hung up on.  These people deserve a medal!


Basic Business License Information:  Apply for a Business License


Zoning:  Interactive City of Toronto map is HERE.


Liquor License:  Planning to serve alcohol?  Apply for your liquor license HERE.


Renovating/Building Permits:  Any renovation or building inside or outside of your space needs a building permit.  As a courtesy, we also recommend that you give your immediate biz neighbours a simple ‘heads up’ about your plans.  It’s a small thing, but it speaks to Leslieville’s basic philosophy:  we’re all in this together.


A-Frames:  Right.  AKA sandwich boards that sit on the sidewalk outside of your biz.  The creativity behind some of our A-Frame messages is legendary.  That said, part of Leslieville’s unique challenge is that we are a little village in a BIG CITY.  There’s got to be room for everybody to get around and pass by on our sidewalks.  That’s why businesses must have a permit if you’re using an A-Frame.  Please call the City of Toronto Licence & Permit Issuing Office at 416-392-6700 for all the information you’ll need to make sure that you’re displaying your sign the right way, and in the safest way, while still creating that stopping power!  When you’re ready to submit your application, the Leslieville BIA office will provide you with a letter of support (an application requirement).  Email us here:  leslievillebia@gmail.com.


Google My Business:  If you haven’t done this, you are definitely missing out.  Probably the single most important way to get your business noticed.  In Google’s own words, “Your listing appears right when people are searching for your business OR BUSINESSES LIKE YOURS on Google Search or Maps.  Google My Business makes it easy to create and update your listing.”  (And remember to refresh periodically, especially if your biz hours change – people RELY on this info!).  Get started HERE.


ComplaintsLet’s face it.  Nobody’s perfect.  But we assure you, that, not one of our Leslieville BIA 220 businesses wants to leave our customers with anything but a positive experience.  In most situations, the business Owner or Manager or building Owner or Landlord should be your first point of contact to make things right.  Check our Business Directory for contact information.  Alternatively, give us a call (647-550-8835) or email (leslievillebia@gmail.com) and we’ll investigate on your behalf for a productive and positive outcome for all parties.


Litter Clean Up:  call 416-39CLEAN


Solid Waste:  416-338-2010


Parking Enforcement:  call 416-808-2222.  Otherwise, for parking concerns related to local construction, TTC repairs or film production in the neighbourhood, contact the BIA office.


Police:  416-808-5500 (non-emergency).  If an emergency, call 911.


Graffiti:  Contact the BIA Coordinator at 647-550-8835 or leslievillebia@gmail.com


Safe and Inclusive Streets:  Call 211 for the Community, Social, Government & Health Services Info and Referral Hotline.


Leslieville prides itself in being a safe and inclusive community.  We work hard to create and maintain strong relationships with our local community service assets, such as Police, South Riverdale Community Health Centre ‘Keep 6’ safe consumption site, the Salvation Army New Hope Shelter for Men, Woodgreen Community Services, and many others.  If a situation arises where you feel you need assistance, call 211.  Alternatively, call or email us, and we’ll redirect your concern to the very best resource at hand.  Important:  the BIA endeavours to respond within 24 hours of all enquiries.  Always, in the case of an emergency, call 911.