On March 8, 2016 the OBIAA Board of Directors met with the Planning, Environment, Resources and Land Deputies Committee (PERL).

The Deputy Ministers and staff from the following Ministries were present:

Liz Harding, Assistant Deputy Minister, Municipal Services Division, Ministry of Municipal Affairs/Ministry of Housing (PERL Chair), Giles Gherson, Deputy Minister,  Ministry of Economic Development and Growth, Bill Thornton, Deputy Minister, Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, Chris Giannekos, Associate Deputy Minister, Ministry of Infrastructure, Allan Doheny, Assistant Deputy Minister, Provincial Local Finance, Ministry of Finance, Martha Greenberg, Assistant Deputy Minister, Policy and Delivery, Cabinet Office, Randy Jackiw, Assistant Deputy Minister, Economic Development Division, Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, Jim Whitestone, Assistant Deputy Minister, Environmental Programs Division, Ministry of Environment and Climate Change, Tija Dirks, Director, Policy and Planning Branch, Ministry of Transportation, Debbie Jewell, Director, Investment & Development, Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport.

We began our meeting with the following introduction: 

RESILIENCE…this is a word that embodies Ontario’s main streets, downtowns and uptowns.  No matter what you call them; Ontario’s history is based on the formation of towns, cities and villages who all have a central business district.  These areas have survived and thrived through many industry changes, from the early day mills…lumber, grist and wool, to mining and manufacturing.  Our downtowns have continued to be the backbone of our economy.  The time is now to support, educate, communicate and invest back into our BIAs.  Business Improvement Areas, in most cases, represent ‘Main Street Ontario’, the economic backbone of the province.  In the 1950’s and 1960’s planning departments in municipalities across the province were encouraging the growth of regional malls. As growth in strip malls, regional malls and suburbs developed in the 1950’s and 1960’s interests moved away from the traditional main street.  As a result the heart of our communities began to crumble. Several leaders of the main street community approached the province and the innovative, cutting edge and supportive BIA legislation was added to the Municipal Act.  Through the BIA legislation, property owners and their tenants come together to create vibrant community cores.  By providing the tools to position themselves for the new economy, BIAs continue to adapt themselves to the changing world, including digital marketing and other challenges and opportunities.  Working together, alongside and at the table with our Provincial Deputy Ministers encourages understanding and recognition of the paradigms facing ‘Main Street’ Ontario.

We presented the following updated statistics and important facts about Ontario’s BIAs:

  • OBIAA strives to be a catalyst for positive community and economic change, enabling growth in Ontario BIAs.   Formed in 2001, OBIAA has focused on building the capacity of our BIAs through advocacy, networking and education.
  • OBIAA’s 2016 membership boasts a combined BIA levy exceeding $68,000,000, with almost 100% being invested back into keeping Ontario’s communities vital. There are almost 83,000 businesses and property owners that are represented within Ontario’s more than 300  In 2016, 232 BIAs were members of OBIAA, approximately 75% of all BIAs in the province.
  • BIA Boards collectively employ more than 130 part-time staff, approximately 175 full-time staff. Further our volunteer Boards of Directors donate their time to build their local Communities. A conservative estimate puts the number of volunteers in excess of 3,000, with a combined 60,000 volunteer hours.
  • The Ontario Business Improvement Area Association (OBIAA) Board of Directors works closely with liaison representatives from the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing (MMAH), the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA), the Ministry of Economic Development and Growth (MEDG) and the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport (MTCS).  The Board welcomes these liaisons as invaluable members to enhance sharing and understanding the concerns of local business in our BIAs across Ontario.

See the topics that were reviewed at the PERL meeting:



2017 PERL Summary – One Pager

 Your OBIAA Board of Directors looks forward to updating you on the outcomes from the 2017 PERL meeting.

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Please find the 2017 OBIAA-PERL Priorities Report – FINAL REPORT attached.


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. www.obiaa.com

For more information, please contact:

Kay Matthews, Executive Director
[email protected]

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