About us

The Willowdale BIA is formed by a group of volunteer Board of Directors who own or operate businesses in the Willowdale area. Our main area of focus is improving the local economy within the BIA area.
The BIA Board of Directors acts as a liaison between local businesses and government, to express the interests of businesses and have an impact on policies made with respect to the Willowdale area.

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Land Acknowledgement for Toronto

We acknowledge the land we are meeting on is the traditional territory of many nations including the Mississaugas of the Credit, the Anishnabeg, the Chippewa, the Haudenosaunee and the Wendat peoples and is now home to many diverse First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples. We also acknowledge that Toronto is covered by Treaty 13 with the Mississaugas of the Credit.

What is a BIA?
A Business Improvement Area (BIA) is made up of local businesses who join together to carry out improvements and promote economic development within a designated area. There are currently over 80 BIAs in Toronto, and Willowdale seeks to create a BIA of its own to support the large and diverse business community.

Exclusive benefits

BIAs have access to exclusive City grant programs such as capital cost-sharing, facade improvements, graffiti and vandalism repair, and construction mitigation.

Strengthen Local Business

BIAs can advocate on behalf of the local community and help attract new customers through large scale marketing, promotions and community events.

Advocating

A BIA can act as a unified and collaborative voice to multiple levels of government, including letters and submissions on issues with wider impacts on the business community.
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Cost of BIA

Once the BIA members approve the budget at the annual general meeting and City Council ratifies it, funds are raised through a levy on all commercial properties within the BIA’s boundary. Calculation of this levy is based on the proportionate value of each property’s commercial and/or industrial assessment. Once the City collects the levy, it returns the funds to the BIA to manage and deliver projects in the designated business community. Many BIAs also apply for grants or undertake capital-cost shared projects with the City.

How is a BIA Funded?

To address the second most common question, we would like to provide you with information that may help clarify the levies that businesses will be providing to the BIA, once it is established. It is important to state that a BIA’s levy is not in any way associated with taxes. Rather, the levy of a BIA is based on the assessment carried out by MPAC for each commercial property and is utilized by the BIA Board of Management, made up of local business owners and leaders, to directly support the businesses within the BIA’s boundaries. We are proposing a levy rate of 0.03 to 0.04 percent per $100 of assessed property value. This will be one the lowest levies by any of the other 83 BIA’s in Toronto.

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Board of Directors

The Board of Directors meet virtually on a monthly basis.
If you are interested in attending a meeting, please contact us at hello@willowdalebia.com.

Pamela Kalsner
Co-Chair
Manulife Investment Management
Nuno Topa
Co-Chair
GWL Realty Advisors
Jeff Oulahen
Vice-Chair
Oulahen Team Realty Inc.
Jaime Kim
Secretary
Pacific High Tech Ltd
Vijay Thomas
Treasurer
Tangentia
Lily Cheng
Toronto City Councillor
Willowdale Ward 18
Ommid Faghani
Newland Financial Inc.
Hyun Joo Chae
MeNami Restaurant
Edward Skira
UrbanToronto
Joanne Su
Spring Garden Market
James Pang
Konjiki Ramen
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Staff

Executive Director

Laura Burnham

We are very pleased to announce that effective June 1st, 2021, Laura Burnham has been appointed to the position of Executive Director at our newly formed Willowdale Business Improvement Area (BIA). Ms. Burnham comes to us with over ten years of experience in working with Municipal Boards in Toronto to achieve their strategic plans and goals in business and community development.

With over 1600 business community members within our boundaries, together with the Board of Directors, Laura and her staff team will be key in carrying out initiatives and promoting economic development within the Willowdale BIA.

As a BIA Specialist, Laura brings many amazing skills to our BIA. These include operations and project management, business support programming, event planning, volunteer recruitment and management, and liaising with City and other stakeholders to advocate for the best interests of our members.

Laura is looking forward to getting to know the membership in order to grow Willowdale BIA as an effective supporter of local economic development and to build branding, strategies and projects that position the Willowdale BIA as a vibrant destination to work, dine, shop, play and live. Laura will be working closely with the Board to implement your BIA’s future strategy, and deliver on the BIA's purpose to support the local business community.

Marketing & Economic Development Manager

Domenic Imbesi

A graduate of York University, Bachelor of Arts and with more than twenty years of experience within the Shopping Centre Property Management industry, Domenic Imbesi obtains vast knowledge in the areas of marketing, business development, specialty leasing, event planning and customer service.  

Domenic Imbesi’s experience includes serving premiere third-party property managers with agility.  His portfolio included regional retail assets such as Yorkdale Shopping Centre, community retail centres such as Cloverdale Mall and several open-air plazas across Ontario & Quebec.  

Proficient in strategic planning and tenant/stakeholder relations, Domenic Imbesi’s passion for the commercial real estate sector has resulted in him achieving many successes throughout his career journey.  Many of his accomplishments have been recognized by industry associations award programs.  Most prestigious, Domenic Imbesi, received the inaugural International Council of Shopping Centres (ICSC) Canadian Social Responsibility Award.  He also served as the Co-Chair & Chair of the ICSC Marketing Awards, has attained his CMD (Certified Marketing Director) and SLD (Specialty Leasing) designations offered by ICSC.  

Domenic Imbesi joined the Willowdale BIA staff in January 2022 and looks forward to offering its membership marketing and economic development resources, ensuring the strategic action plan is achieved and unique brand identity is curated.

Marketing, Communication Coordinator

Skyler Peng

An international student who graduated from York University with a Bachelor of Commerce.  Skyler came to the BIA with two years of previous work experience in marketing.  She leverages her skills in marketing, project and event execution to support the BIA team with the delivery of our initiatives, communications and administration. 

She joined the Willowdale BIA in the spring of 2022 and is looking forward to using her skills, knowledge, culture, and dedication to contribute to the growth of this business community.

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