Riverside BIA: Looking Back on 2023, Looking Forward to 2024

A message from Riverside BIA Team: 

Let’s take a moment to reflect on 2023 (check out our fave memories and a 2024 exciting sneak peek in the photos after this message!). This year has marked another incredible chapter in Riverside’s journey of adaptation and growth as we continue to leverage new opportunities while navigating ongoing economic challenges and transit construction impacts in our area. This past year has also brought forth new vibrancy and highlighted the strength of our tight-knit small-town-in-the-big-city.

This past year, we experienced the start of The Ontario Line construction, resulting in road closures and presenting a variety of new challenges and impacts. In response, Riverside BIA has proactively worked with Metrolinx, local businesses, community organizations, our Councillor’s office, and residents to advocate and leverage opportunities. From having regular touch points with Metrolinx and our BIA members, to being on the Construction Liaison Committee (CLC), to undertaking extensive special programming with support from the Transit Expansion Construction Mitigation Program funding from the City of Toronto and FedDev Ontario. Of particular note, our BIA was part of the the committee and jury for the Lakeshore East Joint Corridor Design Competition, making significant contributions to helping shape the design of the future transit station plaza at Queen Street East and Strange Street as a vibrant public space. The design by winning firm O2 was unveiled on July 27th and we will continue to advocate for involvement as this takes shape. A special thanks to the members of the Lakeshore East CAC, local residents who have put countless volunteer hours into this important advocacy work that we will be doing together, for many years to come.

And that’s just how we roll – for over 43 years now, Riverside BIA’s dedicated Board of Management and staff team are always here, year-round, to support our members and collaborate with community partners through various means. We provide information updates, one-on-one support, a robust digital marketing program, streetscape programs and projects, public art installations, public events and campaigns, as well as other programs aimed at promoting foot traffic and boosting local economic development and community collaboration.

I’d like to recognize and thank the hardworking volunteer Board of Directors at Riverside BIA. Comprising local businesses, property owners, and operators right here in Riverside, our board members give freely of their time, great ideas, and resources to bettering their community. A big thank you also goes to our dedicated team of staff, consultants, and volunteers of 2023 who make the magic happen.  A special thanks to Vinita Kalia – Acting Executive Director for 2023 who did outstanding work supporting the Riverside BIA this past year, we will miss you and will always welcome you back!

A huge thanks goes out to our over 100 members who make up this incredible BIA, and also go to our larger network of support through the Toronto BIA Association (TABIA), the City of Toronto, and all their dedicated services and supportive programs, Councillor Paula Fletcher’s office, our provincial MPP Peter Tabuns, federal MP Julie Dabrusin, and our incredible plethora of community partners and collaborators, especially Ralph Thornton Community Centre  Executive Director John Campey who will be greatly missed in his retirement.

As this Year in Review attests, we have accomplished so much in 2023 by working together. From the 10+ mini-festivals we hosted in Riverside Common Park, to our live music series at the Queen Garden Centre, along with programs like Queen East Eats and Window Wonderland, these are just a few examples of what we can achieve by working together. All of these initiatives are thoughtfully curated to enhance the vibrancy of our main street as we navigate the new realities of on-going transit construction.

We have seen a few of our long-time member businesses close or move on, and have welcomed many new businesses and faces to Riverside. This is an ever-changing business community with 40+ years of history, and over 125 years of industrious Riverside business people have done big things right here.

We can look back with pride on the many collaborative initiatives of the Riverside BIA from the past year to help celebrate the strong spirit here as we say farewell to 2023 and look to the new adventures of a new year in 2024 and a return of exciting happenings..check out our fave 2023 memories and a sneak peek of big things to come in 2024 below!!

We are wishing everyone safe, happy, and healthy holidays, and here’s to doing many great things together in 2024!

Read on for more…