Media Release: Queen Street Virtual Tours Launch as Part of Jane’s Walk Toronto

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Queen Street Virtual Tours – Easily Explore and Learn about Food, Public Art and History of Queen Street West and East (Riverside)

Toronto, ON, May 4th –  Riverside BIA (Queen St East) and Queen Street West BIA have teamed up to create three virtual walks highlighting local restaurants, public art, and historical elements of these two beloved Toronto neighbourhoods. Officially launching on May 7th, the weekend of Jane’s Walk Toronto 2021, inspiration is drawn from urbanist and philanthropist Jane Jacobs. She was “…an urbanist and activist whose writings championed a fresh, community-based approach to city building.” – janeswalkfestivalto.com

The Covid-19 pandemic has compelled many organizations, including BIAs, to be creative and innovative in continuing to showcase and support our local business communities, in a safe manner. 

Queen Street is one of the most vibrant and historic areas in Toronto – rich in culture, heritage, art, and hundreds of unique eateries, cafes, and shops. Now you can virtually sip, savour, explore, and enjoy blasts from the past through our self-guided Queen Street Tours. Best of all, you can experience it all online, and then go check if out on the streets, when it’s safe to do so. 

Highlights of Queen Street Virtual Tours

  • Safely show support for Queen Street businesses, both in the east and west ends. Queen Street is one of Toronto’s iconic, cultural, and economic drivers for the city.
  • Kick-off for the virtual tours is May 7th, also as part of the Jane’s Walk Program 
  • Tours are FREE to participate and publicly accessible
  • There will be a weekly draw, valued at $100 with a gift card for a restaurant in each of Queen West and Queen East (Riverside) for the first five weeks on the BIA’s respective Instagram channels:@riverside_bia, @queenstreetwest
  • More tours are planned to be released in the fall with the potential of hosting in-person tours, dependent on Covid-19 protocols. 

About the Riverside BIA www.instagram.com/riverside_bia

The Riverside BIA, established in 1980, is one of Canada’s first BIA’s, located along Queen Street East between the Queen Street Viaduct to just past De Grassi Street. Rich in history, green spaces and public art, the BIA includes over 100 unique eateries, retails shops, boutiques and a range of professional services.

About the Queen Street West BIA https://www.instagram.com/queenstreetwest/

The Queen Street West BIA was established in 2009 and has boundaries from Bathurst St at the west, and Simcoe St to the east. It is home to many iconic landmarks, and is known nationally and internationally for its culture, art, music, fashion, and food.. The BIA represents over 300 commercial businesses.

BIA Letter: Urgent Ask for Additional Supports and Clarity for Main Street Businesses

While being in a long and continued period of critical lockdown, our main street businesses are hurting in many ways and need ongoing support to get through this pandemic.  Please read our letter sent along with other Toronto BIAs to our provincial leaders asking for outcomes including more financial support for Toronto-based businesses, policy that is driven by transparent statistics, and clear lines of communication. 

April 23, 2021

To our provincial leaders,

Follow up Re: Urgent Ask for Additional Supports and Clarity for Main Street Businesses

The Riverside District, Queen Street West, Bloorcourt, Leslieville and West Queen West BIAs are five of Toronto’s 80+ BIAs. We collectively represent approximately 1300 small and medium sized businesses and property owners. The views expressed in this letter come from our direct consultations with our members.

We are following up on our letter from April 9th (copy attached) where we requested:

  • Clear lines of communication 
  • More sustained financial support for Toronto area businesses who have been on the longest lockdown in North America – with geographic considerations toward fixed costs
  • Scientific and evidence-based decision-making for policies and regulations

We have not had an official response from the Premier nor Ministers that this letter was originally addressed to. We want to reiterate the continued need for support and with special emphasis on: 

  • Immediately and permanently ceasing the 6% markup that restaurants pay for alcohol from the LCBO. 

Hospitality businesses are one of the most impacted business segments during this pandemic and we are facing a volume of such drastic business closures, we are risking losing the culinary culture and identity of entire cities due to lack of support for this industry. 

We would also urgently request a liaison from the Province to listen to the hardest hit business segments in Toronto which have been under the longest lockdown in North America, such as hospitality, fitness and wellness, and beauty industries.

Here are some messages directly from a cross-section of affected businesses:

“My wife and I have been working 12-14 hour days since the onset pandemic just to keep our business afloat. Allowing favourable pricing for licensees would be a welcome lifeline, helping us wean off subsidies while joining the ranks of rest of the world where bulk purchasers find economic viability.”  -Shamez Amlani, Owner & Operator of La Palette Restaurant @ 492 Queen St West, Toronto

“Our family owned and run business has been on Queen Street East since 2013. Running a local restaurant during a global pandemic has reinforced just how much the local community really wanted us to be here. Locals have sent flowers and their children’s drawings to thank the restaurant for staying open during such a challenging time. During tough times, it really gives you the courage to keep on going. But our business is suffering major losses with every week that passes and we can’t keep our doors opened without stronger government support. Ceasing  the 6% markup would be a most welcome step.” -Diana Sideris, Owner & Operator of Tabule Middle Eastern Cuisine @ 810 Queen St East, Toronto

“We were caught in the storm of COVID two months after opening and all our original hires left. But I decided that we would not shut down…not even for a day. I kept the doors open through deliveries and takeouts. However, we can’t sustain this business model, we need more hospitality support now to survive to make it through to the return of outdoor and indoor dining.” -Rohit Wadhawan, Owner & Operator of Indian Spice Room @ 717 Queen St East, Toronto

“We are a yoga studio since 2014 in the neighbourhood. We’ve qualified for all the government support available, it’s good, but to be completely honest, it’s not enough. There is a lot of red tape around it, and you have to wait quite a while to receive a lot of the funding. Any money that I have received goes right into paying bills. We are pulling out all the stops with live-stream classes, online merchandise and marketing, but with our in-class business shut down the majority of the past year, it is a dire situation and unsustainable at current levels of support.” -Rachelle Wintzen, Owner & Founder of Chi Junky Yoga & Wellness Studio @ 70 McGee Street, Toronto

“As the mother and wife of high-risk people, I understand and support all public health measures to reduce the spread of COVID 19 that are backed by scientific evidence. As a spa owner who has not been able to operate since November 23rd, 2020, I am also feeling the devastating impact of these closures on my business, my personal financial health, and the mental health and well-being of myself, my team, and my clients. The toll a year’s worth of half-measures and last-minute decisions has taken on small business owners in Bloorcourt (and across Ontario) is immeasurable and we simply cannot continue on this path.” -Michelle Palmer, Owner & Founder of Pause Beauty @ 993 Bloor St West, Toronto

Once again, while we recognize that efforts have been made to support our businesses during the ongoing pandemic, not enough has been done. Due to the financial devastation that has been produced by the actions provincial government measures have been enacted to date, some businesses are taking risks under the strain they are experiencing. The only way to navigate past this reality is to directly address their concerns transparently on a financial, mental and emotional level.

The measures we have outlined are what business leaders need to see now to prevent decimation of our main streets.

See the full letter here

Bag of Toronto Riverside Mother’s Day Edition is On Sale Now!

The Bag of Toronto is a grab-bag of specialty goods from local businesses in the city, delivered right to your doorstep! 

Since 2020, Bag of Toronto has been supporting local businesses in collaboration with BIAs. They are back with a Mother’s Day edition and Riverside is in the Bag.

The Bag of Riverside covers Queen Street East from the Riverside Bridge to De Grassi St. and is generously supported by us, the Riverside BIA. Each Bag of Riverside will have an assortment of five to seven products from a selection of the businesses listed here. And if that wasn’t enough incentive, Bag of Toronto will be making a donation to our local charity of choice the Ralph Thornton Community Organization.

Order your bag here while quantities last!

Delivery of the bag will be on May 8th, just in time for Mother’s Day.

Bag of Toronto’s Story.

The Bag of Toronto team started this project to support local businesses during a time when community is more important than ever.

The first iteration of this project ran from April – June 2020, and featured businesses along Bloor St West. During the 2020 winter holidays, we expanded to include over 55 businesses in five neighbourhoods around Toronto. We also ran an edition for each of those five neighbourhoods for Valentine’s Day in 2021.

Over the last year, they have been able to distribute more than $100,000 into local businesses, and donated over $6,500 in profits to charities in each neighbourhood.

BIA Letter: Urgent Ask for Additional Supports and Clarity for Main Street Businesses

There’s no doubt, our main street businesses are hurting in many ways and need ongoing support to get through this pandemic. Read our letter sent along with other Toronto BIAs to our provincial leaders asking for outcomes including more financial support for Toronto-based businesses, policy that is driven by transparent statistics, and clear lines of communication.

April 9, 2021

To our provincial leaders,

Re: Urgent Ask for Additional Supports and Clarity for Main Street Businesses

The Riverside District, Queen Street West, Bloorcourt, Leslieville and West Queen West BIAs are five of Toronto’s 80+ BIAs. We collectively represent approximately 1300 small and medium sized businesses and property owners. The views expressed in this letter come from our direct consultations with our members.

While we recognize that efforts have been made to support our businesses during the ongoing pandemic, not enough has been done. Our members are looking for outcomes including more financial support for Toronto-based businesses, policy that is driven by transparent statistics, and clear lines of communication.

In summary, what is needed:

More sustained financial support for Toronto area businesses who have been on the longest lockdown in North America – with geographic considerations toward fixed costs:

  • Remuneration for sectors that were publicly informed of reopening timeframes and then ordered to abandon reopening plans (including but not limited to health, fitness, beauty, wellness, retail, restaurants, and hospitality)
  • Introducing a sector-specific program for covering reopening and closure costs, such as wasted inventory, staffing costs, etc.
    Inclusive financial support programs that ensure all types of businesses in need are able to participate (i.e. new businesses that have opened during the pandemic, single person businesses).
  • Immediately and permanently cease the 6% markup that restaurants pay for alcohol from the LCBO.

Scientific and evidence-based decision-making for policies and regulations:

  • Transparency is needed with credible facts and sources to identify the reasoning for strong and major business closure actions taken by the provincial government
  • A clear path is needed now for how businesses can plan for re-opening for the remainder of 2021, following the current stay-at-home/ lockdown order, aligned with statistics, clearly associated KPIs (e.g. based on case counts, vaccination rates)

Clear lines of communication

  • Outline a clear plan for how lockdown measures will be eased to avoid any further unnecessary costs for reopening and closing of businesses. News releases must immediately come with updated detailed regulations and orders.
  • Create a reasonable and clear set of rules for vaccinated people to remove uncertainty for our public-facing main street businesses

Due to the financial devastation that has been produced by the actions provincial government measures have been enacted to date, some businesses are taking risks under the strain they are experiencing. The only way to navigate past this reality is to directly address their concerns transparently on a financial, mental and emotional level.

We are already losing the character of our neighbourhoods and the social and economic diversity in all sectors of industry. The measures we have outlined are what business leaders need to see now to prevent decimation of our main streets.

See the full letter here

 

Local Collab: Artist RUNT X Saulter Street Brewery

Have you heard?! Saulter Street Brewery in Riverside neighbourhood has paired up with world-renowned homegrown artist RUNT. 

It’s ALL about LOCAL ART & LOCAL BEER – what could be better?! Read on to learn more and see some of the incredible art (and beer) in store…

Thank you to Saulter Street Brewery and RUNT for this guest blog – we are pleased to help spread the word about this incredible new collaboration of local business and local artistry!

SAULTER STREET BREWERY TEAMS UP WITH ARTIST “RUNT” – MARCH 31, 2021, TORONTO

Saulter Street Brewery is thrilled to announce the first drop in a series of upcoming art project collaborations with Internationally recognized street artist RUNT.  In this first installment, you can now enjoy the limited edition Maibock beer featuring original artwork by RUNT.

 

JOIN US ON THE PATIO!

MAIBOCK, derived from the German term “MAY Billy Goat”, is the perfect beer to transition from the depths of winter to the warmer spring season.  

Also known as Helles Bock, it is a lager with a “warm golden Hue” and an elevated level of hop in comparison to other bocks. It is bready and has the toasty flavors of a pale Doppelbock which is the beer that monks historically nicknamed liquid bread while they fasted during lent.

The Maibock has a lesser alcoholic percentage that the Doppelbock, while having more hop flavor, aroma, and bitterness.  It is gold to light amber in color, moderate bitterness at 25 IBU and has 6% ALC.

RUNT is widely recognized as one of Canada’s unique creative minds, his passionate sense of adventure has fueled his work for decades. 

Known for his large-scale detailed murals, his work has been gracing walls for over 30 years. His work has been commissioned by some of the top corporations in the world, including the Toronto Transit Commission, YouTube offices, Bather Apparel, Absolute Vodka and NXNE music festival to name a few.  He was selected as the feature artist for Fortune 500’s Global Forum event, his monumental commissioned artwork was viewed by some of the world’s most influential businesses and political leaders, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

At once familiar and unfamiliar, Runt’s works are of this world but not of this world. Informed by a wide range of influences, from Hieronymus Bosch to Dr. Seuss, Runt’s work embodies a love and critique of humanity as his monster scenescapes play out in front of the viewer’s eyes. If one could press “play” on any of his scenes and advance them, the scenes would look entirely different. Runt’s characters capture the joy and aggression of our urban existence.

Saulter Street Brewery is rooted in the local community.

“We opened our red barn doors in August 2017 with the goal of making great beer and creating a space that inspires people to come together and live in the moment. With that goal in mind and with a talented team in place, we started brewing. It did not take long for the team to fall in love with the entire process. The endless combinations kept our curiosity alive, and I developed a patience that I didn’t know I had. Watching others enjoy our creations made me feel like I’d found my true calling in life and, in that moment, I knew that we had the opportunity to do something great” – says founder John Sterling, owner of Saulter Street Brewery. 

“When it came time to decide on a location for the brewery, we were immediately drawn to the community and timeless charm of Riverside, where we found a peculiar little barn on Saulter Street. Upon my first visit, I had feeling that time seemed to have slowed down. It felt like a little escape from the city, hidden within it.” 

Saulter Street Brewery, 1-31 Saulter Street, Toronto, ON