Looking to 2013 Anna Bartula, the executive director of the Parkdale Business Improvement Area (BIA), has her strategic plan in place and there are set to be some changes this year: Street festivals and a kindness campaign are in, while Nuit Blanche and those distinct jute shopping bags branded with the Parkdale BIA’s logo are out.
“The approach this year is to do smaller programs more often,” Bartula said. Primarily, Bartula said the BIA will look at what is happening in the community and promote and piggyback on the initiatives that already exist as opposed to starting them from scratch.
A timeline with bullet points and post-it notes lines the wall in the BIA office at 1313 Queen Street West. Initiatives will be spread throughout the year, specifically so they line up more clearly with the retail calendar.
“There are certain times throughout the year that are the most important for retailers,” she said. “There are times that are really busy and times that are really slow.”
Bartula said it’s important to support businesses through busy and slow times. The BIA targets programs and events that will appeal to its entire membership.
One of the first events for the new year will be celebrating the anniversary of Parkdale’s incorporation as a Village, which happened on Jan. 1, 1879. The BIA will coincide the launch of its new website with the anniversary.
The BIA has also created a new emblem for window decals to be displayed on member businesses’ windows, which will be rolled out in January. In the spring there will be a street event called ‘Spring into Parkdale’ where member businesses will be encouraged to have sales and samplings.
“We have some really great plans like apple cider and all kinds of wonderful things that encourage families and people to walk the strip,” Bartula said.
The new year will see the BIA re-design promotional materials and produce a new shopping bag to be handed out. The BIA will continue with its partnership with Parkdale Collegiate Institute to participate in the CONTACT Photography Festival in May, a program the BIA started in 2011 to give students an opportunity to show their work during the festival.
In June, Bartula said the BIA will launch a “kindness campaign” where a street team of hired ambassadors will be interacting with business members, residents and people on the street.
“Maybe doing a little sweeping of the streets... opening doors for people, paying for parking, handing out free newspapers,” Bartula said. This summer, the Lab Cab Festival will be moving to Parkdale July 27th and 28th, 2013, according to Bartula and the BIA is on board to be one of the sponsors of the annual, two-day multi-arts festival.
Aviva Armour-Ostroff, one of the organizers of Lab Cab, said they will be using many businesses between Roncesvalles and Dufferin as performance venues, including Mascot Cafe, Coriander Girl and FiXt Point Studios.
Bartula said the BIA’s involvement in Lab Cab will replace the late winter festival Fireside Culture Week, which the BIA hosted for the past four years. The BIA will continue to participate in the Queen West Art Crawl in September, but Bartula said Nuit Blanche is off the roster of events for 2013.
For the past few years, the Parkdale BIA hosted a significant Nuit Blanche installation called LEITMOTIF, but Bartula said that because it is a nighttime festival and most of the BIA’s member businesses are closed at night, the BIA will not be continuing with installations.
Wrapping up the year of activities, Bartula said in the winter of 2013 the BIA will host a street-focused celebration similar to the one in the spring.
Just a few months at the helm of the BIA, Bartula said she will also put the mechanisms in place to evaluate and measure the success of programs the Parkdale BIA does, which will help the organization plan for future years.