Faculty Author Type

Current Faculty [Alexandra Flynn]

Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date



Toronto, Governance, Business


Business Improvement Areas (BIAs) - or Business Improvement Districts as they are known in the United States - are self-taxing local bodies that play an important role in urban governance. Toronto, which was the location of the first BIA in the world, has one of the highest number of BIAs in North America, yet little is known about how these bodies differ across the city. Using a mixed methodological approach that includes geographic information systems mapping, quantitative analysis, and semi-structured interview data, this chapter addresses this gap in knowledge by offering a typology of Toronto BIAs, looking at the metrics of size, walkability/transit score, budgets, and year of formation. The study concludes that there are four kinds of BIAs in Toronto scattered unevenly across the city: Big City Builders, Old Local Stewards, Big Industrial Powerhouses, and Emerging Small Centres. The paper sets out the unique attributes of each kind of BIA, some preliminary conclusions as to how Toronto’s BIA types differ from those in other jurisdictions, and points at the explosive creation of Emerging Small Centres BIAs following Toronto's amalgamation.

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