In My Opinion: Beach Village BIA working hard on strengthening economic development

Anna Sebert is the Executive Director of The Beach Village BIA.

By ANNA SEBERT

Issues like storefront closures are universal concerns not unique to Toronto nor to the Beach Village.

That being said, at the Beach Village BIA we’re not sitting idly by or overlooking this hotbed topic, but rather taking aggressive and proactive measures to continue to strengthen the economic development of the area.

When brainstorming strategies to tackle retail vacancies, we identified data collection as a primary tool we could leverage to spur business growth in the region.

Basic information like rental rates, foot-traffic and sales figures are essential pieces of data that will prove invaluable in assisting with retailer recruitment in the Beach Village.

A crucial first step in our proactive approach was securing a City of Toronto Innovation Fund Grant, which we received in conjunction with the Danforth Mosaic BIA for a Business Recruitment Strategy.

The Danforth Mosaic had a vacancy rate of 15 per cent in 2015, but has recently reduced it to an impressive 3 per cent.

While their vacancy rate has significantly decreased in the last four years, they were experiencing similar issues and the project offered an opportunity to drive new and interesting businesses to the area.

The goals of the project will be to collect the aforementioned data and useful insights that will then be utilized to pitch prospective business owners on opening up shop in the Beach Village.

Both BIAs are areas in transition, and we jointly recognize the long-term importance of attracting well-suited businesses to fill vacancies as a means of renewing the retail streetscape.

This project is part of a holistic approach to improving economic development in the Beach Village.

Additionally, we recently contracted the services of marketing firm, Zenergy Communications, to develop an integrated Back to the Beach Village campaign, which aims to entice Torontonians across the city to explore everything our area has to offer.

The campaign will highlight all of the Beach Village’s unique events, its eclectic mix of retailers and our focus on health and wellness, as well as drawing on the strong feelings of nostalgia many Ontarians hold towards our historic locale.

Furthermore, we also proudly announced an event grant program on April 1, 2019, offering community groups and individuals cash grants for events operating in – and contributing to – the overall vibrancy of the Beach Village.

Finally, one of our largest projects to date was the completion of an updated streetscape master plan, which will guide urban renewal projects along Queen Street East for the next 10 years.

Two projects outlined in the plan will be completed over the next year including the installation of new wayfinding totems and two urban parkettes.

The BIA is heavily invested in the success of the Beach Village and we’re determined to do everything in our power to strengthen its future outlooks.

We will continue to do what we’ve traditionally done best, including street beautification, community-driven events and business promotion – but we will bolster these approaches with innovative new initiatives and projects.

We’ve heard our residents’ concerns loud and clear regarding storefront closures and other roadblocks and we’re anxious to do our part in letting the rest of Toronto know that the Beach Village is open for business.


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