LAST UPDATED: August 4th, 2022

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Current Press Updates From Your Government:
For the latest, up to date press releases from:
Government of Canada, please click here.
Government of Ontario, please click here.
City of Toronto, please click here.

This Page: Below is a collection of information shared with local businesses (located within our boundaries) via our Members Newsletter.

Select Topics Include:

  • 3 Popular Digital Main Street Grants & Services
  • CPLC Newsletter Sign Up
  • De-escalation Training Sessions (Level 1 and Level 2)
  • CafeTO Registration + $7500 CafeTO Grant
  • Hospitality EDGE
  • Volunteer on a BIA Committee
  • City Council Makes CaféTO Permanent
  • Check your property monthly for graffiti
  • Toronto Police Neighbourhood Officers Division 51
  • UPDATED & NEW: How to Report A Crime
  • Shelter at 45 The Esplanade – Info & Newsletter
  • Shelter at 45 The Esplanade – Who to call
  • and more…

3 Popular Digital Main Street Grants & Services
Added August 4th, 2022

Digital Main Street (DMS) is a program focused on assisting small businesses with their adoption of technologies. While the program started here in Toronto, it has now expanded to multiple provinces through a partnership between the Government of Canada and the Province of Ontario.

Here are just three ways you can access DMS services:

1) Digital Service Squad
The Digital Service Squad is running as always and supporting businesses across Toronto with digital transformation support. If your business is looking for support you can sign up here and book a free appointment with a team member.

2) Digital Transformation Grant Program
This is the 4th iteration of the popular $2,500 Digital Transformation Grant Program, which provides businesses with funding to implement Digital Transformation. All eligibility and eligible costs etc can be found here. Please note there will be two iterations of this grant, the first being from June 2022 – Oct 31 2022, and the second from January 2023 – October 2023.
(Businesses that received a grant between July 2021 – March 2022 are not able to apply for additional funding in 2022. These businesses will be able to apply for funding beginning in January 2023.)

3) Canada Digital Adoption Program (CDAP)
For businesses looking to implement or improve their overall eCommerce presence, the Canada Digital Adoption Program provides businesses with $2,400 in grant funding to implement eCommerce. All eligibility and eligible costs can be found here.

To learn about all programs available through DMS, please visit www.digitalmainstreet.ca.


CPLC Deck – Major Crime Indicators Overview (April 2022)
Added April 20th, 2022

In a recent CPLC (Community Police Liaison Committee) meeting Toronto Police Division 51 shared this slide deck (click here to view) with committee members. Below are general notes on year to date findings.

  • Sexual Violations, Homicide, and Auto Thefts have increased in frequency year to date, however, total crime occurrences are lower than previous years.
  • Most assaults have occurred on weekends.
  • While sexual assaults are spread throughout the day, they have a slight propensity to occur between late morning and mid afternoon and most sexual assaults have occurred on weekdays.
  • Auto theft’s are heavily clustered along Dundas St E in the center of the Division. Additionally, Front St E & Church St has emerged as a hot spot. Individuals leaving their vehicles running and unsecure are commonly targeted.
  • Robberies have spread throughout the day, but have had a slight tendency to occur during afternoon hours on weekends.
  • Theft over occurrences are concentrated between 11:00am and 4:00pm.
  • To learn about how to report a crime and about our local Neighbourhood Officers please be sure to click here now and bookmark this page.

CPLC Newsletter Sign Up
Added April 20th, 2022

The CPLC (Community Police Liaison Committee) volunteers are starting their own newsletter. If you wish to sign up to receive this newsletter please do so here.

Your local BIA will continue to share, via our members newsletter, information decks from the CPLC and Toronto Police Division 51,  when made available to our office.



De-escalation Training Sessions (Level 1 and Level 2)
Added April 20th, 2022

The City of Toronto is again offering De-Escalation Training Sessions for Street-Front Businesses.  The sessions are geared to managers or employees who interact with the general public regularly and would like to learn strategies and skills for communicating with individuals who may be street involved or displaying agitated behaviours.  Training is facilitated by the Downtown Yonge BIA and a mental health educator.  Registration is free.


Supports available for small businesses in Toronto
Added March 1st, 2022

The City of Toronto and its partners offer many supports to help small business owners and operators mitigate and recover from the impacts of COVID-19. These include grants, incentives, online training, advisory services and a new small business property tax sub-class. Small businesses, including restaurants, are encouraged to take advantage of these resources. Find a full slate of resources at toronto.ca/BusinessSupport.


Rapid tests from Toronto Region Board of Trade
Added February 16th, 2022

The Toronto Region Board of Trade’s supply of rapid tests is now back in stock and they are resuming distribution of these kits for businesses. They are, however, working through a significant backlog of appointments. To sign up please click here.


CafeTO Registration + $7500 CafeTO Grant
Added January 28th, 2022

Restaurant operators can now apply for sidewalk café permits or register for curb lane cafésThe deadline to register for curb lane cafés is April 2.

Sidewalk cafés are outdoor eating areas located on sidewalks where food or drinks are served to the public by a licensed eating or drinking establishment.

Curb lane cafés provide expanded temporary outdoor dining space by reallocating the public right-of-way on curb lanes for use by licensed eating or drinking establishments. The deadline to register for curb lane cafés is April 2.

Through CaféTO, the City has amended its regulations to make it easier for eating and drinking establishments to install or expand patios on private property.

GRANT: New for 2022, café operators are now eligible for a matching grant of up to $7,500 to cover 50 per cent of the cost of eligible property or site improvements related to curb lane café installations, sidewalk cafés or patios on private property, through the CaféTO Property Improvement Program.

Learn more about the permit, registration and zoning bylaws by clicking here.


Reminder re: Federal Supports
Added January 7th, 2022

The Government of Canada continues to offer targeted supports for businesses and self-employed individuals facing hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

These include rent and property expenses support; wage and hiring support; Large Employer Emergency Financing Facility; Canada Worker Lockdown Benefit and more. Click here to see the supports available for businesses, self-employed individuals and sectors.


Provincial Supports
Added January 7th, 2022

The Ontario government has announced an Ontario COVID-19 Small Business Relief Grant for small businesses that are subject to closure under the modified Step Two of the Roadmap to Reopen. It will provide eligible small businesses with a grant payment of $10,000.

Eligible small businesses include:

  • Restaurants and bars;
  • Facilities for indoor sports and recreational fitness activities (including fitness centres and gyms);
  • Performing arts and cinemas;
  • Museums, galleries, aquariums, zoos, science centres, landmarks, historic sites, botanical gardens and similar attractions;
  • Meeting or event spaces;
  • Tour and guide services;
  • Conference centres and convention centres;
  • Driving instruction for individuals; and
  • Before- and after- school programs.

The Ontario government is also providing electricity-rate relief to support small businesses, as well as workers and families spending more time at home while the province is in Modified Step Two. For 21 days starting at 12:01 am on Tuesday, January 18, 2022, electricity prices will be set 24 hours a day at the current off-peak rate, which is less than half the cost of the current on-peak rate.

Further, online applications for the previously-announced Ontario Business Costs Rebate Program will open on January 18. This program will provide eligible businesses with rebate payments for up to 100 per cent of the property tax and energy costs they incur while subject to public health measures in response to the Omicron variant.

Eligible businesses required to close for indoor activities, such as restaurants and gyms, will receive a rebate payment equivalent to 100 per cent of their costs. Those required to reduce capacity to 50 per cent, such as smaller retail stores, will receive a rebate payment equivalent to 50 per cent of their costs. A complete list of eligible businesses will be provided prior to the launch of the application portal.

These new programs build on previous business support programs, including the Ontario Small Business Support Grant, the Property Tax and Energy Cost Rebates, and the Ontario Tourism and Travel Small Business Support Grant.

Also being introduced is a six-month interest- and penalty-free period to make payments for most provincially administered taxes, cutting wholesale alcohol prices to provide approximately $60 million in annual support to restaurants, bars and other businesses, and extending COVID-19 paid sick days until July 31, 2022 to keep workers safe and ensure they do not lose pay if they need to miss work for reasons related to COVID-19.


Hospitality EDGE
Added December 13th, 2021

Hospitality Edge is Destination Toronto’s workforce development program helping facilitate the return of hospitality workers as more businesses in the sector prepare for the next stages of recovery.

Hospitality EDGE offers a highly curated suite of courses for workers in the hospitality sector—online and at no cost—and comes at a time when the tourism and hospitality industry has needed to adapt quickly during the global pandemic.

Three new courses have now been added in addition to the previous offerings: Introduction to Hospitality Sector, Business of Hospitality, Sustainable Tourism.

Hospitality EDGE is for everyone in the hospitality industry. (Be sure to share this with your staff and co-workers.) It is developed through a partnership of Destination Toronto, the City of Toronto, the Tourism Office of the City of Brampton, and Tourism Mississauga, supported by funding from the Ontario Ministry of Heritage, Tourism, Sport and Culture Industries. Learn more about the program here.


GRANTS: Toronto Main Street Recovery and Rebuild Initiative
Added December 6th, 2021

To assist small businesses in Toronto to recover from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic six new programs have been launched with funding attached to them. Three of the programs which may be of high interest to our members are:
1) The Retail Accelerator Program provides small retail businesses operating in the city of Toronto with access to training and a micro-grant of $10,000. Participants are required to create and submit a retail business/marketing plan after the targeted retail training is complete in order to receive the grant.

2) The CaféTO – Commercial and Industrial Property Improvement Program offers business operators matching funding of 50 per cent for the cost of eligible improvements (excluding furnishings) to café spaces on City property (where a valid permit has been issued) or on private property. Expenses eligible for funding include platforms or decking, fencing and accessibility improvements which meet Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Opens in new window (AODA) design standards and technical drawings.

3) The Commercial Space Rehabilitation Grant Program offers matching funding of 50 per cent to commercial business operators and owners of storefronts that are vacant (or, in certain limited circumstances, at risk of becoming vacant) to undertake interior improvements, assisting businesses to re-lease space impacted by COVID-19.

Click here to learn about all six programs.


Volunteer on a BIA Committee
Added November 18th, 2021

Here at your local Business Improvement Area we appreciate the time and effort of our volunteer committee members. These volunteers meet on an as needed basis, (typically once or twice a year) and make themselves available via email and phone when needed.

Committees include:
Events and General Support Committee
Marketing and Promotions Committee
King East Design District Committee
Streetscape and Development Committee
Parks Committee
Member Services and Area Beautification Committee

If you would like to volunteer with one of our committees, please email Executive Director Al Smith at alsmith@stlawrencemarketbia.ca.


15% Property Tax Reduction to Small Businesses
Added November 18th, 2021

City Council has voted to move forward with a 15 per cent property tax reduction to small businesses.

The new small business property tax subclass will come into effect for the 2022 tax year. It is estimated that property tax reductions will apply to approximately 25,000 small businesses across Toronto, or 60 per cent of all commercial properties.

Find out if you qualify, read examples and learn more by reading the full press release.


City Council Makes CaféTO Permanent
Added November 18th, 2021

Toronto City Council has approved a plan that will make the CaféTO program permanent while continuing to deliver needed business support to restaurants including waiving permit fees in 2022.

A public survey for restaurant operators, customers and the general public, which gathered over 10,00 responses showed overwhelming support for the program. Of those who participated, 91 per cent believed that extended sidewalk and curb lane cafés should be allowed in Toronto in the future.

A new registration process will be launched for future permanent CaféTO sidewalk cafés. The new process will be fast and streamlined and restaurant operators will only need to apply once for year-round expanded sidewalk cafés. Currently, existing temporary CaféTO sidewalk cafés can remain in place until April 14, 2022.

Please click here to read the full press release for more details and to view the City Staff report.


Check your property monthly for graffiti
Added August 26th, 2021

Graffiti has been and will continue to be an ongoing issue in our city. Here in Old Town Toronto your local BIA spends time weekly reporting graffiti on publicly owned assets, such as utility boxes, Canada Post boxes, parking meters etc. We also over this past year have invested in cleaning up to 65 graffitied Toronto Hydro poles per month. These actions/programs help lower the number of “tags” visible in our neighbourhood, helping to create a more welcome environment for all, but we cannot do it alone.

All businesses and property owners are encouraged to maintain their property on an ongoing basis in accordance with Chapter 485, which states “The owner or occupant of property shall maintain the property free of graffiti vandalism.” Failure to do so can result in the city serving a notice to comply. If the notice is not adhered to, the city can opt to do the work and add the cost to the property’s taxes. (Read the chapter for full explanation.)

Be proactive. Check your property monthly and clean off any graffiti in a timely fashion. Together we can help keep Old Town Toronto a welcoming area. Thank you for your ongoing efforts!

To report graffiti, please email the City of Toronto with the address and a photo at 311@toronto.ca.


Toronto Police Neighbourhood Officers Division 51
Added Apr. 29, 2021

Toronto Police Services (TPS) Division 51 recently divided the division up into neighbourhood boundaries (see below). Each neighbourhood has minimum 4 Neighbourhood Officers assigned to it. This does not replace officers that work across the entire division.

If you have a persistent problem (for example, a recurring trespass issue) that Neighbourhood Officers should be aware of and can assist with, have information about concerns in the community etc, please use the below email to alert them.

Old Town Toronto is located in The Waterfront Neighbourhood. Our Community Officers can be reached by email at Waterfront@torontopolice.on.ca.

IMPORTANT: Please do NOT use this email as a replacement to calling 911 in an emergency or 416-808- 2222 in a non-emergency situation. Those are your first line of defence. To learn more, please click here to access and print the How To Report A Crime Info Card.

All Neighbourhoods:


UPDATED & NEW: How to Report A Crime
Added Apr. 1, 2021

The Community Police Liaison Committee (CPLC) and other local organizations recently updated the How To Report A Crime infographic.

Your neighbours, local businesses and Toronto Police need your help. If you see something, say something, using this handy How To Report Crime graphic. The easiest way to advocate for more police in our area is to show TPS where their services are needed, by filing reports, so resources can be allocated better.

Download, print and post this handy How To Report A Crime graphic next to your phone or computer. To download the graphic here please visit: https://oldtowntoronto.ca/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/How-To-Report-A-Crime-51DivCPLC.pdf

Many reports can now be done quickly online, 24 hours a day at https://www.torontopolice.on.ca/core.
Here you can report issues such as:
-Damage to property/vehicle under $5000
-Theft or fraud under $5000
-Theft from vehicle under $5000
-Neighbourhood driving complaint
-and more!


Shelter at 45 The Esplanade – Info & Newsletter
Added Mar. 11, 2021

A few of our members have reached out about the new shelter at 45 The Esplanade. We wanted to take this opportunity to share with you what we have shared with them on this topic. (Be sure to also see the post below about who to call and when, when you observe an issue.)

1) We ARE disappointed that this area of downtown takes on a disproportionate responsibility for the City’s social obligations. What we have always advocated FOR is a transition in policy from temporary shelters to permanent housing. In many ways the city is presenting this program at 45 The Esplanade as a piece of a strategy that addresses this desire, with supports on site to help transition it’s residents into permanent housing. If this strategy is successful the city can increase the long-term usability and security of our neighbourhood public spaces by removing unwanted uses (tents, etc.) leaving our parks, boulevards, and plazas more welcoming to all.

2) The BIA was not consulted prior to the placement of this shelter at 45 The Esplanade, nor the shelter at 56 Yonge Street. We will be very active in ensuring that any negative side-effects of the shelter at 45 The Esplanade are identified by the community liaison committee. You can click here to read a recent Community Bulletin from 45 The Esplanade from the shelter’s operators for more information, including contact info.

3) The original shelter on 98 The Esplanade will be closed and their residents will be moved to the new shelter.

4) The new shelter at 45 The Esplanade differs from the old one at 98 The Esplanade as it is not a drop in centre, and has numerous supports for its clients such as job and housing placements, programs for mental illness and drug addiction, and most importantly a more robust security detail with patrolling security details.

5) We have been advocating for neighbourhood community Toronto Police officers for a long time now and recently learned that two new officers have been assigned to a newly identified neighbourhood, Queen to the waterfront and the width of TPS 51Division. The Neighbourhood Officer program has advantages as these officers cover a smaller area than regular officers and therefore get to know the area better.

6) Safety and security is not an issue unique to our area, but rather has crossed into many, if not all, neighbourhoods across our city. In that respect we have ongoing discussions with our councillor, the mayor’s office, the police, and the downtown core BIAs to investigate solutions together to address the issues.

7) We are also asking for help from our residents and businesses as well to be proactive as possible.

  • Ensure your outdoor and indoor lighting when you are closed are functioning properly.
  • Check your security camera connection and ensure there are no issues.
  • If you have not already, familiarize yourself with the online reporting tool with Toronto Police Services to be used for non emergency items (https://www.torontopolice.on.ca/core/.) As this process unfolds if there are issues, it is crucial that you and your neighbours report every instance of crime, no matter how small or frequent it is. The more reports in the system the better. It will help police allocate resources to the right area AND illustrates to them and city council when reviewed what sort of impact has been experienced.
  • You may also reach out to our councillor in the event of any concerns (Councillor Wong-Tam kristyn@kristynwongtam.ca ) so that she understands the breadth of any issues. Please note, before reaching out to the councillor ensure you have reported any criminal issues to Toronto Police using the link above and always call 911 in case of an emergency

Shelter at 45 The Esplanade – Who to call
Added Mar. 11, 2021

A number of inquiries have been made to the shelter at 45 The Esplanade regarding neighbourhood situations, and who to call and when. You are encouraged to click here now to download a PDF version of the above contact chart. Take time to print, read and post this chart near your phone or computer.


Monthly Digital Main Street Webinars
Added Mar. 4, 2021

Last month we offered two free online workshops with Digital Main Street. These were small intimate workshops just for our local business owners/operators/staff. DMS also offers their own FREE monthly workshops. Read the description of each below and visit the included links to learn more and choose an upcoming date to attend by clicking register. Feel free to forward this to any other businesses you know who might be interested.

Web Presence 101: Your customers are on the web. Having a strategy for your online presence allows you to market your small business online so customers can easily find you. In this workshop hosted by the Toronto Digital Service Squad we’ll discuss the importance of getting your business online and where to start with developing your online presence.

Find out what you will learn and pick a date to sign up for by visiting the link below.
https://www.eventbrite.com/e/web-presence-101-ensuring-your-foundation-is-set-tickets-142096340981 

Social Media for Your Business: Social media is an invaluable tool for today’s business, whether you are just starting out or have been established for years. Not understanding how to use social media effectively can leave you overwhelmed and ultimately hurt your bottom line as your potential customers can easily find your competitors. This workshop hosted by the Toronto Digital Service Squad will leave you with a better understanding of how to leverage the power of social media to grow your online community, drive sales and reduce marketing costs.

Find out what you will learn and pick a date to sign up for by visiting the link below.
https://www.eventbrite.com/e/social-media-for-your-business-tickets-142267870029?aff=erelpanelorg

eCommerce 101: What, Why, and How: More consumers than ever before are turning to online shopping for greater convenience, safety, and variety. In this webinar, the Toronto Digital Service Squad will teach you the basic steps to setting up an online store. We will cover everything from what you need to prepare before launching a store, to choosing an e-commerce platform, to providing excellent customer service online. You’ll finish this session feeling excited about how e-commerce can help you reach new customers and expand into different markets.

Find out what you will learn and pick a date to sign up for by visiting the link below.
https://www.eventbrite.com/e/ecommerce-101-what-why-and-how-tickets-142274578093?aff=erelpanelorg


Patio Heaters Fire Prevention

During the recent Fire Prevention Week, the Technical Standards & Safety Authority (TSSA), the Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs (OAFC) and the Canadian Propane Association partnered to educate the hospitality industry and the public about potential fire and carbon monoxide hazards associated with the improper use of patio heaters.

Please review this important press release and the guidelines you should post in your staff room.

REMINDER: Keep these units locked up outside at night to avoid theft. See Safety Guide for rules, regulations and additional storage information.


Am I a member?
Every business and commercial property owner within the boundaries of The St. Lawrence Market Business Improvement Area (BIA), also known at Old Town Toronto, are automatically members of our not-for-profit organization. To view a map of our boundaries, please click here now.


Old Town Toronto encourages you to follow all recommendations and orders of public health officials including, but not limited to, staying at home as much as possible. Together we will #FlattenTheCurve.