It’s official. The Ossington Avenue Business Improvement Area (BIA) has formally chosen its first board members.
Business owners from the Ossington strip from Queen Street West to Dundas Street West gathered at the Lower Ossington Theatre Wednesday, Oct. 22 for its inaugural annual general meeting (AGM) to choose the 10 board members that will make up the 78th BIA of Toronto.
“This is exciting,” said Nicky Potter, the owner of the Painted Lady at 218 Ossington Ave. and one of the BIA’s 10 new board members. “I’m so glad this is coming together so nicely. I wasn’t sure if I was going to be a part of it (the board). I wanted everyone to have an opportunity to put their name forward, but I’m glad I’m on board.”
Jamie Angell of Angell Galleries at 12 Ossington Ave. also became a board member Wednesday night and said he plans to bring his expertise to the board. Angell said he was a member of the steering committee for the West Queen West BIA when it was first officially formed in 2005.
“I hope to bring marketing and promotion expertise. As a small business owner and as a gallery owner, I’ve got a lot of experience with marketing and promotion,” Angell said.
“I also want to make sure things start off slowly, but surely. I think everyone is enthusiastic, but you have to make sure you have your clear goals on what you want to achieve and that’s a great beginning.”
Angell said he’s looking forward to sprucing up the avenue with similar aesthetics that have worked for the West Queen West BIA, such as lighting and planters along the street.
“It took a while (to get them), but it really unified the area it’s something to make it cohesive.”
Ward 19 Trinity-Spadina Councillor Mike Layton, who is the automatic 11th member of the board, also stopped by the inaugural meeting to offer his support, share in the excitement and thank steering committee members for making the BIA happen.
“The expectation is this group is the voice for the businesses on the street,” Layton said to the room of about 15 business owners.
“If you want to see some change on the street we (the councillor’s office) are here to help make that happen. ...I’m excited about the ideas that have been circulating and look forward to help pulling them off.”
The BIA got approval from Toronto council this summer and is the 11th BIA to be created in Ward 19 Trinity-Spadina.
To help the meeting run smoothly, Ron Nash, a staff member from the City of Toronto’s Business Improvement Area office, was on hand to help with protocol and the technicalities of the meeting, including helping pass the BIA’s first proposed budget of $59,012.
Potter said that number is mirroring similar-sized BIA’s budgets. Included in the approved budget is a part-time and temporary salaried position that would help with administrative duties as well as some marketing responsibilities.
There is also a $5,000 grant that was given to the BIA from the city that can be used toward creating a mural in the area. Details of where it will be and who will paint it will be decided in the new year when the board can start working on official BIA matters, which include choosing a chair, vice-chair, secretary and treasurer.
However, Potter wants to hit the ground running a lot sooner and start planning for future projects as early as next month with board members.
“What we want to execute right away is planning to do cool stuff because it takes a lot of time to plan these things,” said Potter, who is excited about getting a street festival ready in time to coincide with the 2015 Pan Am Games in Toronto.
“We really want to make a splash this summer.”
By Hilary Caton