2023 Annual BIA Conference

April 16-19, 2023

  • Apr16

2023 Awards Program Re-Vamp

A Celebration of Excellence

You’ve worked hard, scored some real victories, and made a measurable difference in your community….now it’s time to take credit for your efforts! Enter your project, initiative, partnership, promotion, or campaign in the 2023 OBIAA Achievement Awards.

We’ve made changes to the program this year that better align both its submission and evaluation criteria with similar association and urban place management awards programs, and that look to elevate our profession through a focus on strategic goals and measurable outcomes.

Check out the changes to the program this year that will help you celebrate excellence – yours!


1. NEW: There are expanded categories for projects under the same 4 pillars of urban place management.

2. NEW: All entries will be judged against a standard set of criteria vs. against each other. This means there can be multiple winners in any category – and this could be you!

3. NEW: BIAs or projects with small budgets are not judged against large BIAs or budgets; every entry has an equal chance to be recognized with an award.

4. NEW: All entries (application and promotional materials) are submitted in one online application only.

5. NEW: You can download the judges’ evaluation form (below) to better understand how you will be evaluated.

6. NEW: Use the Marks of a Winner Guide (below) to see what judges will be looking for in an entry – and write yours accordingly.

7. DEADLINE: Friday, February 17, 2023


1. Think of all the great projects you’ve successfully completed this year – pick the best ones that might be unique or include robust measurement of your success, or ongoing programs with a real track record, or initiatives other BIAs can learn from, or ones you’re most proud of.

2. Fill in the Word template of the awards application – keep this for your files.

3. Complete the application form online, upload your Word template complete with your promotional materials, upload 3-5 PowerPoint slides (in case you win), and choose how you would like to pay.
NOTE: If you’re entering the same project in more than one category, you must complete a separate application form for each project.

4. Review the checklist before you hit “submit”.

5. Register for the OBIAA annual Conference in London, ON from April 16 to 19, 2023 where the Awards will be given out.

2023 Awards Categories

Pillar: Leadership & Management
Efforts focused on strategic, high-level leadership programs and/or hands-on operational management excellence.

  1. Advocacy & Governance: Recognizes strategic leadership skills development, including board leadership, organizational visioning, governance, and external relationship building such as government relations, stakeholder/community engagement, addressing social issues like homelessness and crime, and legislative or policy changes.
  2. Operations: Efforts focused on operational excellence in financial management, team management, staff recruitment & retention, diversity, equity and inclusion policies and processes, volunteer programs, operational systems, and internal relationship

Pillar: Economic Development
Programs focused on business retention, recruitment & expansion, market analysis/research, historical preservation programs, tourism, nighttime economy, and incubators or pop-up spaces.

  1. Business Retention, Recruitment & Expansion: Recognizes BIAs with economic development programs to attract new businesses and/or help existing business flourish and expand.
  2. COVID-19 Response & Recovery: COVID-19-related proactive, reactive, or preventative programs that address crisis, business continuity, or issues impacting your BIA or district, such as shuttering/re-opening businesses, advocacy efforts, or redesigning business operations.

Pillar: Marketing & Promotions
Programs focused on branding, public relations, promotions, marketing strategies, data & metrics, sponsorship & fundraising strategies, crisis communication plans, public engagement  or events.

  1. Special Events: Includes events of any kind targeted at members or the larger community.
    Marketing: Includes brand communication, marketing/promotion communication, with tactics such as external publications, advertising, public service announcements, audiovisual or digital communication like websites, online stores, blogs, podcasts, social networks, democratized content networks, micro-blogging and content-sharing sites or the like.
    Communications: Includes government relations, community relations, media relations, issues/crisis communication, member communications, internal publications, community/member consultation, engagement.

Pillar: Public Realm
Programs focused on clean, safe, hospitality and placemaking.

  1. Streetscaping & Public Realm Improvements: Includes animating open spaces & parks, sidewalk activations, beautification, public art, street banners and holiday décor and public realm technology. Can include partnerships with government, private or other collaborators.
    Safety & Security: Includes “eyes and ears” or ambassador-type programs, social enterprise partnerships or initiatives, law enforcement collaborations or projects, safety related member services. It can also include initiatives to address homelessness, safety concerns, and social issues.

Special: Legacy Awards
These awards recognize individuals who have demonstrated excellence in the BIA world.

Alex Ling Lifetime Achievement Award: Recognizes individuals who selflessly contribute to strengthening and promoting BIAs and the movement at large above and beyond their own BIA or organization.
Jan Hawley Memorial Pinnacle Award: Recognizes individuals who are accomplished leaders and have demonstrated skills in advocacy, innovation, and community building at their own organizations, OBIAA, and/or within the BIA movement at large.

Note: Entrants may submit multiple entries in the same category and/or across multiple categories provided that the work plan fits the category description. You may submit as many entries as you wish, but separate  fees apply for each entry.

Supplemental Items for the 2023 Awards Program

Awards submissions will open Tuesday, January 10, 2023
and the deadline to submit is Friday, February 17, 2023.

Submission FAQs and Tips & Tricks

As an award recipient you, your organization or client, and your community will receive acknowledgement and recognition by your peers at the BIA Awards presentation at the Awards Dinner. As a member of this select group you will also receive a BIA Award and a copy of the photos taken with your team at the presentation of the awards.

OBIAA and TABIA members and others are invited to submit projects for consideration. The submitting organization must have played a key role in the achievement of the project, its implementation, and its results. Given the vital role partnerships play in many successful efforts, we urge you to identify all participants in your submittal.

Projects have to have taken place and/or been completed within the last two years and must be 90-95% complete to be eligible for consideration. In a multi-phase project, completion of a major phase of the project is necessary for entry. For long-term or ongoing programs, something new or different should have taken place within the eligibility period.

This is where you will build out your submission in its entirety. You will then upload it to the online application form. This way, you can keep a copy for your records. 

Use this document as a reference when filling in your submission. The judges will use this when evaluating your entry.

Can include any materials that help illustrate your work plan, such as pictures, website or blog screenshots, publications, advertisements, speeches, sample media articles, training materials, etc. Include the URLs and/or passwords for websites or other online platforms within your work plan or supplemental materials for judges to view live at judging time if required.

There is no limit on the number of supplemental materials, but less is more. Think 1-6 per entry.

While it all depends on the project, examples of what you might include:

  • A page from your BIA’s strategic plan
  • A media release
  • A screenshot of a blog, social media post, or website page
  • A live link to a website or web page
  • A live link to a blog story by you or a partner
  • A few elements of a new brand identity or advertisement
  • Photos of an event
  • A one-page summary of results of a formal survey or poll
  • Board chair speaking notes (just the first page)
  • Graphics of media coverage you received (website post, FB re-post)
  • Anything else that you reference in the plan that is relevant to the story you’re telling
  • A small table with a budget re: revenue (sponsorships vs levy vs grants vs other) and expenses (contracts, purchase materials, hiring vendors)
  1. In the event you are a winner, please provide us in advance with 3 – 5 PowerPoint slides with the following:
    • Summary of the project
    • Budget summary
    • Tips and tricks for replication

Have you done/included the following:

  • Filled out the online application form
  • Included relevant promotional materials
  • Included the relevant URLs or similar for live digital supplemental materials
  • Included the victory materials in 3 -5 PPT slides
  • Registered for the OBIAA annual conference where the Awards will be given out
  • Patted yourself on the back for entering – congrats!

Fees are as follows:

BIA – Levy less than $500,000


BIA – Levy more than $500,000


Consultant, Municipality, Supporter & Partner


Payment Options:

Credit card

Invoices available upon request

The awards will be presented at the Annual BIA Conference during the Monday evening Awards Dinner and all winners are encouraged to attend. Winners will have an opportunity to give a short speech upon receipt of their award.

Winners will also have an opportunity to present their winning submission during our popular Awards Sessions on the Tuesday immediately following the Awards Dinner.

All submissions may be considered to present during our of our weekly Best Practices Calls.

If you have any questions about which category to choose or how to submit your entry, please contact [email protected]

Call for Judges for the

2023 Awards Program

Get a front-row seat to Ontario’s top talent!

For more than 14 years, the Ontario Business Improvement Area Association (OBIAA) has celebrated professionals for their talent and creativity through the OBIAA Awards program.

The Awards offer the Ontario place management profession an opportunity to present its best work. It celebrates and promotes excellence from the BIA world and fosters a greater appreciation of it.

Each year, senior BIA leaders and sector experts volunteer their time to review and evaluate dozens of outstanding award submissions from leading organizations across the province. It is one of the exclusive benefits of an OBIAA membership that provides professional development and networking opportunities. 

NEW: We’ve made changes to the program this year that better align both its submission and evaluation criteria with similar association and urban place management awards programs, and that look to elevate our profession through a focus on strategic goals and measurable outcomes.

As we prepare for award submissions, we’re looking for experienced BIA staff and experts to serve on our panel of judges. Our judges are critical and highly valued for their leadership and hands-on experience. They not only evaluate submissions, but – new this year – they will also provide insightful feedback that helps our entrants develop as practitioners. 

We are currently accepting applications from senior and/or experienced professionals to join our panel of esteemed judges. 

Get a front row seat to some of the best and most innovative work in Ontario and learn how to submit your own entry using the new format. It’s a win-win.

What you need
Ideally 5 or more years of experience as a BIA professional and/or content expert
Accreditation is a plus
A passion for continuing to develop professionally and network with some of the best BIA leaders in the province

What we need from you
Complete the application 
Commitment to complete our mandatory OBIAA Awards webinar training either Wednesday, January 18 at 11am or Thursday, February 9 at 2pm
Commitment to complete and reconcile evaluations within the stipulated timelines

NOTE: being a judge doesn’t prevent you from entering; you just won’t evaluate your own submissions.

We thank all applicants for their interest. Those selected to join the judging panel will be contacted by the OBIAA Awards Judging Committee directly.

Judging FAQs

We’re looking for strategic thinkers, BIA professionals with hands-on experience, previous entrants and/or winners, people willing to learn and commit the time to evaluating entries thoroughly and thoughtfully.

No, but it will be helpful. As evaluation will be done in pairs, more experienced evaluators will be paired with less experienced judges for both learning purposes and to offer a more robust evaluation, so you’ll be able to learn ‘on the job.’

There’s a new process this year. Evaluators will be paired up: experienced with less experienced judges. You’ll judge the award entries you’re assigned on your own, individually first. Then, you and your partner will meet up by phone or virtually to reconcile your scores and feedback. The pair will then submit one final evaluation form for each entry.

The process ensures two sets of eyes on each submission and greats a create networking and learning opportunity for judges. 

OBIAA will hold two Judging Sessions the week of March 6-10 to help you along with the process.

All judges are required to attend a 1-hour webinar either Wednesday, January 18 at 11am or Thursday, February 9 at 2pm to learn the new evaluation process (Hint: you can also learn how to submit a winning entry at the same time!). You’ll then need to spend about 45-60 minutes per entry on your own to evaluate. Then you’ll meet up with your judging partner and spend about 30+ minutes per entry to come to consensus on feedback and scores. The number of entries per pair will depend on the number of judges and entries.

On the webinar, we’ll go through in detail how to judge using a standard set of criteria, the judging scoring scale, and how to provide quality feedback to entrants. You can see the details of the new program (expanded categories, the evaluators form and the Marks of a Winner judging guide) on the website.

These two 2-hour sessions are an opportunity provided by OBIAA for you to connect with your judging partner. There will be members of the OBIAA Awards Committee on hand to answer any questions you may have about the judging process.

These sessions will take place on:

Monday, March 6, 2023 from 10am-12pm
Wednesday, March 8, 2023 from 1:30-3:30pm

You and your partner can still come together on your own if these dates and times don’t work for you. 

Congratulations to our 2022 Awards winners!

For more information on their winning submissions, check out the 2022 Awards Page!

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