Advisory Committee

Ontario BIA Association (OBIAA) Announces New

“Accessibility on Main Street” Project

Ontario’s Main Street Public Spaces to Become More Accessible for Everyone.

Collingwood, ON— The Ontario Business Improvement Area Association announced today that it will work with BIAs to improve the accessibility of main streets throughout the province. The year-long Accessibility on Main Street Project, funded in part by the Government of Ontario’s EnAbling Change Program, commenced on April 1st.

The Accessibility on Main Street Project aims to identify the built environment accessibility challenges experienced by OBIAA’s 300 BIAs and their more than 60,000 business members and to offer a range of possible solutions.

This project will:

  • Clarify the obligations of businesses and BIAs under the AODA’s Accessibility Standard for the Design of Public Spaces (DOPS);
  • Identify the ways in which businesses and BIAs can influence the accessibility of their public spaces;
  • Showcase real examples of how businesses in Ontario and elsewhere have made their built environments more accessible to their communities and customers;
  • Identify invisible barriers businesses customers may be experiencing and how to reduce/remove/prevent them.

The project will be guided by an Advisory Committee and will involve a survey of the accessibility challenges and opportunities for second floor businesses; focus group meetings on how to increase the accessibility of main street public spaces; the creation of an Accessible Main Street Handbook; and webinars to disseminate the information gathered.

Would you like to join the Advisory Committee:  Apply today – Advisory Committee Application Form 

Advisory-Committee-Terms-of-Reference 2018-9

Accessibility is smart for businesses. It is something no business can afford to ignore! That is why OBIAA continues to champion accessibility for our BIAs and their members.

Together we can celebrate success stories across the province, share resources, and collaborate on making a better Ontario to live, work, and play!

 Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions about the AODA

Click here for a handy pdf guide or copy and paste this link:


~ One in seven people in Ontario have a disability. Over the next 20 years, that number will rise to 1 in 5 as the population ages.
~ Staff retention is 72% higher among persons with disabilities, which is equal to savings of millions of dollars every year in hiring and training costs.
~ Most accommodations for employees with disabilities cost less than $500.
~ It is estimated that one million Canadians have some kind of disability that makes it difficult or impossible for them to read conventional print. As our population ages that number will increase.

Employment Myths

The percentage of people with visible disabilities is:
a) 20% b) 30% c) 40% d) 50% e) 70% (Answer: B)

A DuPont study showed that ______ of workers who have a disability scored average or above average in performance ratings.
a) 50% b) 65% c) 82% d) 90% (Answer: D)

Most job accommodations cost less than:
a) $5,000 b) $3,000 c) $1,000 d) $500 e) $200 (Answer: D)

According to a DuPont survey, _________ of employees who have a disability have average or above average attendance records
a) 86% b) 75% c) 66% d) 44% (Answer: A)

Less than _______ of people who have a disability use a wheelchair or scooter as their primary mode of transportation.
a) 2% b) 5% c) 8% d) 12% e) 15% (Answer: A)

Source: “Six Steps to Marketing Employment for people who have a disability”, Joe Dale, October 2002.

ResourceswithMouseAccessible Employment Resources…

Introduction to the Accessibility Smart Businesses Kit – As part of the “Accessibility Smart Businesses” Project, we have prepared seven information packages on the topic of hiring people with disabilities.  These information kits address the questions, concerns, and misunderstandings that we have heard from small businesses about hiring persons with disabilities.

You can use the material in these kits in whole, in part or as suits your purposes. The kit content has been designed to be flexible and can used in a variety of your communication vehicles, including your newsletter, website, social media, and local media. Each kit has a specific theme but you can mix and match as you please. Some items, such as the Media Release, Articles and Social Media posts have instructions in [square brackets] to highlight areas that you can adjust to specifically target your members. Additionally, you will see [link] which signifies where you can place a link to kit content that you post on your website or to direct them to OBIAA’s website.

KITS- Accessibility Smart Businesses

Link Images to Accessibility pages on OBIAA Website

Banners for BIAs E-Newsletters

Accessibility Video by TABIA (password tabia)

Digital Main Street Launches Grant Program

Province of Ontario partners with OBIAA to provide grants to help Ontario’s “main street” businesses go online.

October 15, 2018: Ottawa, Ontario. Ontario’s Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) and the Ontario BIA Association (OBIAA) announced today the official launch of Digital Main Street’s exciting Grants Program across Ontario at Shopify’s Ottawa headquarters.

Coinciding with Canada’s Small Business Month, the event kicks off the availability of Digital Main Street Grants Program, which provides funding to qualifying small “main street” businesses and community business groups to enhance online promotion, selling and operations. 

“Our government is making Ontario open for business and strengthening rural communities, and the Digital Main Street program will do just that. In partnership with the Ontario Business Improvement Area Association, this program helps local small business embrace new technology that will expand their digital capabilities and make them more competitive.”

-Ernie Hardeman, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs

There are two types of grants that will be available:

  1. Digital Transformation Grant: There will be 2,000 grants of $2,500 each available to qualifying small “main street” businesses to help them adopt new digital technologies.
  2. Digital Service Squad Grant: There will be 300 grants of $10,000 each available to qualifying municipal or business groups to develop and implement local squads of digital vendors and experts to directly help small businesses.

Applicants will access the grant process through the Grant Program Portal, which will be available on October 15 on the Digital Main Street website at

“With today’s launch of the Grants Program and the Grant Program Portal, we are making Digital Main Street very real.  These grants will enable Ontario’s qualifying small “main street” businesses to adopt digital technologies while also learning how to promote, sell and operate online for greater success. Digital Main Street will put Ontario’s small businesses on the ‘digital map.” said Kay Matthews, Executive Director of OBIAA.

Part of the Province of Ontario’s Main Street Enhancement Initiative, Digital Main Street helps improve how small businesses use digital tools and techniques to become more successful.  Today’s digital economy is vital to small businesses, and DMS will help enable them to adopt new digital technologies from e-commerce and social media to back-office systems such as payroll and inventory.


Media Release_OBIAA_DMS_October 15

FAQs Digital Service Squad Grant

FAQs Digital Transformation Grant


OBIAA is the network that represents unique and vibrant BIAs across Ontario. The Association, incorporated in 2001, supports and advocates on behalf of its members through the building and nurturing of strong relationships and partnerships. OBIAA is a leader in the development and sharing of information, tools, resources and best practices, and is the ONE voice on common issues.


Kay Matthews, Executive Director
Ontario BIA Association

Tollfree: 1-866-807-2227 | Office: 905-271-7222 | Mobile: 647-521-5341 |