Jul 28


The Ontario Business Improvement Area Association (OBIAA) Board of Directors met with the Government of Ontario’s Open For Business Roundtable on Wednesday January 15th 2014 at the Ontario Investment and Trade Centre in Toronto to present five priorities that affect Main Street businesses in Ontario.

The OBIAA Board is delighted to share with our members the results of Priority Two (2), Improving understanding and engagement on the Tourism Oriented Directional Signing (TODS) Program. The TODS program provides wayfinding and directional information to travellers throughout the province of Ontario. TODS offers signing opportunities for qualifying “downtowns” and “main streets” located off provincial highways to direct motorists to their tourist areas.

In responding through the Open For Business process, based on the research and outreach OBIAA did to BIAs across the province, we requested that the TODS program be reviewed so the National, Provincial and Municipal programs work together and complement each other, and further that a Main Street Ontario icon be developed or adopted to encourage economic growth and vitality of Ontario’s Main Streets.

In championing this priority with the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport (MTCS), OBIAA is pleased to announce the upcoming changes, as a result of the TODS program review MTCS has recently completed, which identified suggestions for improvement. The revised TODS Program includes policy and program adjustments that will strengthen and modernize the TODS program and improve the effectiveness of tourism highway signing. MTCS and the Ministry of Transportation (MTO) are currently working with service provider Canadian TODS Limited (CTODS) to implement the changes.

Improvements that impact our BIAs include:

  • Allowing more rural downtowns, trail access points, museums, and cultural centres to qualify for TODS signage. Rural Downtowns (quaint, developed rural downtowns with a population of less than 20,000). This change increases the qualification threshold from rural downtowns with a population of less than 10,000 to 20,000.
  • Development of a “Rural Downtowns” icon. This icon is being created by MTO and will need to be modified and tested before it can be made available. It will be the first icon of this kind in Canada.

    Draft Icon Only

    Draft Rural Downtown Icon

Some destinations, including Business Improvement Areas, have chosen to profile their location with TODS via the “Tourist Clusters” category (limited geographical areas with a set of three or more tourist accommodations or attractions, e.g., Fallsview Tourist District, Bronte Harbour Tourist Area) or via their local, permanent farmers’ market (e.g., Main Street BIA Farmers Market). Organizations or businesses that represent these downtown and main street areas may apply to Canadian TODS Limited (CTODS) for a sign bearing their name, a generic symbol (or in some cases a corporate logo) and directional information.

“The Board of the Ontario BIA Association is proud of the work done to date and excited about the launch of the Ontario Open for Business publication. Working with Open For Business has been a significant step for Main Street businesses; it gives us a real presence and our economic impact can be communicated” stated OBIAA President Ellen Timms.
The OBIAA represents over 60,000 businesses set up within the Main Streets of Downtowns in Ontario.


Media Contact: Kay Matthews, Executive Director | OBIAA
Contact Information: info@obiaa.com | 1-866-807-2227 | 647-521-5341

ABOUT: ONTARIO OPEN FOR BUSINESS: Open for Business is Ontario’s initiative to create faster, smarter and streamlined government-to-business services and to establish a modern system of government. It’s a key part of the Ontario government’s commitment to make the Province more attractive to business while continuing to protect the public interest. Open for Business has three key areas of focus: Modern Government – create a streamlined and focused regulatory environment that delivers results for business, while protecting public interest; Modern Services – deliver better products, including service standards that support business needs; New Relationship with Business – create an open and responsive working relationship between business and government.

ABOUT: ONTARIO BUSINESS IMPROVEMENT AREA ASSOCIATION (OBIAA): OBIAA, since 2001, acts as an important resource for education, partnership and collaboration to each BIA across the province. OBIAA recognizes the power of networking, the strength in numbers and the value of sharing common concerns and finding resolutions specific to our individual communities.

OBIAA, through membership, represents, supports and encourages business improvement areas to increase their effectiveness and their contribution to the economic, cultural and social well-being of communities in Ontario.
Additional Information/contact:

Province of Ontario Media Report – OBIAA Open For Business Links:

TODS comments or questions can be directed to the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport via phone or email.
Email: Tourism.Signs@ontario.ca
Phone: Brooke Heisterkamp (416) 212-0429

For TODS program information including eligibility criteria and costs, please contact CTODS at 1-888-263-9333, or visit their website: www.canadatods.interstatelogos.com

For more information on the results of the TODS program review, please visit the MTCS website: www.mtc.gov.on.ca/en/tourism/tods.shtml