The Parkdale Village Business Improvement Area (BIA) is the recipient of the Community Engagement Award from the Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas (TABIA).
The award ceremony, which took place last month, gave the Parkdale Village BIA the award for its participation as a member of the steering committee in the Parkdale Planning Study, conducted by the Parkdale Community Economic Development (PCED) Planning project. The study aims to protect Parkdale’s diversity, inclusivity and affordability through a neighbourhood plan.
The BIA was one of several organizations involved in the 18-month neighbourhood-wide planning initiative to create the plan, which is funded by Metcalf Foundation, Ontario Trillium Foundation, Echo Foundation, and Catharine Donnelly Foundation.
“It was wonderful to be acknowledged by TABIA,” said Anna Bartula, the executive director of the Parkdale Village BIA.
“But I think at the end of the day, we’re grateful that the award ceremony has given us an even bigger opportunity to highlight the Parkdale Planning Study and give it a bit more of a platform … when this project came to light, the board realized a very important document could come out of this and to not contribute wouldn’t have made sense at all.”
Members at TABIA have noticed the effort and overall engagement the BIA has helped garner through the planning study and were impressed they were able to not only help create this study, but to begin to take action on some the findings that were discovered, including helping to fund and co-ordinate the creation of the Parkdale solidarity mural at Queen Street West and Callendar Street.
“Plans often get done and collect dust, but what was impressive was they were able to implement the findings (in the planning study) right away, and it’s these little wins that make a difference in a community,” said John Kiru, the executive director of TABIA.
“One of the things we advocate for is the local business community to engage and be involved in the local community. After all, in retail, especially in the BIA world, the community is what sustains them. Engaging the local community, that’s the foundation for local economic well-being as a community as a whole.”
The Parkdale BIA often “works in the shadows”, said Bartula, when it comes to community engagement, and that’s how it’s always been. It often works as the liaison point between people who wish to partner or collaborate with a community organization or with Parkdale in general in some way.
“We’re a significant part of the community so anything we can do to help promote the planning study and keep it moving forward and keep people talking about it is important. The award is just a bonus,” said Bartula.