The BIA Office implements more than 80 capital projects a year that range in cost from $10,000 to $1-million, with an annual gross budget of $3.5-million. Project costs are shared between the City and the BIA, usually on a 50/50 basis.

Capital streetscape projects not only beautify the city, but also make economic sense. Streetscape improvements create safe and attractive retail areas that help BIAs and their members sustain and grow business.

Capital Project Guidelines and FAQs

A streetscape is made up of paving, lighting, trees, street furniture and sidewalks, framed by buildings and open spaces. Together these elements create an aesthetic identity for a Business Improvement Area

  • The BIA allocates funds and resources for the projects for the coming year after preliminary consultation with the City of Toronto capital project coordinator
  • The BIA submits its proposal to the City for approval – usually by August
  • Budgets must be approved by City Council
  • Total budget for the capital cost-sharing program is divided between all BIAs based on received requests and priorities
  • Funds for BIA capital projects come from several sources: levy/savings; City of Toronto contribution; contributions from developers through Section 37 agreements (as per Planning Act); coordinated projects with other divisions and utilities

Streetscape elements that are permanent and within the City’s right-of-way are eligible under the capital cost-share program. These include:

  • Art installations
  • Banner poles and banners
  • Benches
  • Gateways
  • Hanging baskets
  • Median enhancements
  • Pedestrian lighting
  • Planters
  • Sidewalk treatments
  • All Projects are managed by the City of Toronto’s BIA Office
  • Costs are shared between the City and the BIA, usually on a 50/50 basis
  • Once completed, BIAs maintain all improvements

The process starts with preliminary capital planning:

  • BIA Identifies potential projects at least one year in advance
  • Ideally the BIA will follow direction from a master plan
  • BIA gauges interest from its members
  • Preliminary discussions held with City staff regarding feasibility of proposal

Once a project is identified and a budget is approved, the BIA forms a project sub-committee or approves a main contact to work with a City of Toronto capital project coordinator. The BIA and the capital project coordinator work together going forward.

Equal Share Funding

  • Cost of project to be shared equally (50/50) between City and BIA
  • Targeted toward single-phase, small- to mid-size projects where BIA has its 50% share of funding in place
  • Maximum $600,000 (gross) project value; and maximum $1.8 million (gross) value of projects over 5-year period

Financed Funding – with City Contribution

  • Cost of project to be shared, 35% by City and 65% by BIA, where City provides financed funding for up to 100% of BIA contribution
  • Minimum $200,000 and maximum $1-million gross project value
  • Targeted toward multi-phase projects that, because of City financing, can be undertaken in a single phase, thereby minimizing disruption to the street and achieving cost savings; and to projects that can be undertaken in concert with City-driven infrastructure improvements where BIA lacks implementation funding
  • BIA repayment of financed portion, including interest compounded annually, scheduled over 3 – 10 year timeframe

Financed Funding – with no City Contribution

  • Targeted toward large projects that exceed the funding capacity of the BIA Capital Cost-Share Program
  • BIA pays 100% of cost
  • City provides up to 100% of project financing, but no contribution from BIA Capital Cost-Share Program budget
  • BIA repayment of financed portion, including interest compounded annually, scheduled over 3 – 10 year timeframe

BIA Full Funding

  • BIA pays 100% of project costs with no Capital Cost-Share Program funding or City financing;
  • No project minimum/maximum value restrictions

“A” Rank: Primary Criteria

  • Projects that can be implemented in concert with capital projects undertaken by other City divisions or City agencies or Toronto Hydro
  • Second phase (or further) of multi-phase projects
  • Projects that utilize the “Financed Funding – with City Contribution” funding option
  • Minor projects with a gross cost no greater than $10,000 (no more than one “A” rank minor project per BIA)
  • Projects located in areas that plan to host an upcoming special event or tourist-related event

Approved by a BIA board, a master plan

  • Provides direction and overall vision for the BIA
  • Outlines phased planning
  • Identifies prominent locations in the BIA for capital project improvements
  • Is used in consultations with various City divisions

Minor projects are typically elements placed above ground, such as:

  • Banners
  • Benches
  • Decorative bike racks
  • Decorative street signs
  • Hanging baskets
  • Planters
  • Poles sleeves

Major projects refer to any streetscape element that requires extensive work or a foundation below ground surface, such as:

  • Art installations
  • Banner poles
  • Electrical projects (e.g., pedestrian lighting)
  • Gateways, markers and signage
  • Median enhancements
  • Sidewalk improvements
  • Tree pits and tree grates
  • Consult with Capital Projects Coordinator and finalize scope of work.
  • Prepare location maps or list of poles, for example, in collaboration with capital project coordinator.
  • Apply for necessary permits (City of Toronto Transportation Services – Right of Way Management, Hydro, TTC). Allow minimum of 6- to 8-week time frame.
  • Get quotes through City of Toronto Purchasing and Materials Management Division competitive bidding process.
  • Successful bidder is awarded the job with the approval of the BIA.
  • Implementation and completion.

Projects that involve a sub-ground foundation often require clearance from several utilities, agencies and divisions, including:

  • Bell
  • Canada Post
  • Enbridge
  • Enwave
  • Hydro
  • Parks, Forestry & Recreation – Urban Forestry
  • Rogers
  • Telus
  • Toronto Water
  • Transportation Services – Right of Way Management
  • TTC

Facilitating coordination of the various required approvals and clearances typically takes 3 to 6 months.

  • Project tendered after permits are obtained.
  • Contract awarded to successful bidder with BIA approval.
  • Construction begins, with contract administration and project management by City staff.
  • Warranty period begins.
  • Construction project completed.

The City of Toronto has a policy of competitive bidding.

  • Any work under $50,000 needs a minimum of 3 quotes.
  • Customized scope of work is prepared by the Capital Project Coordinator in consultation with the BIA and 3 vendors are invited to bid through the City of Toronto’s Purchasing and Materials Management Division (PMMD).
  • Lowest bidder is awarded the contract.
  • Time frame for 3-quote bids is 4 to 5 weeks minimum.
  • Contracts estimated to be more than $50,000 are tendered out through the City’s Purchasing and Materials Management Division.
  • Scope and tender documents are posted on the City’s website.
  • Lowest bidder is awarded the contract.
  • Time frame for tendered bids is 8 to 10 weeks minimum.
  • After implementation the BIA becomes the owner of the improvements.
  • The BIA is responsible for 100 per cent of ongoing maintenance.
  • A maintenance schedule must be created by the BIA Board of Management based on manufacturer/vendor and City staff recommendations.
  • All capital improvements must be identified as a line item for maintenance in BIA budget.