At the recent OBIAA Conference held in Toronto, the founder of the Roncesvalles Village BIA, Mr. John Wakulat, was awarded the prestigious Alex Ling Lifetime Achievement Award.
The Alex Ling Lifetime Achievement Award is given annually to a person in the Ontario BIA movement with major lifelong contributions to BIAs. The award is named after Alex Ling, one of the founders of the world’s first BIA, the Bloor West Village BIA, in 1970. Today there are 83 BIAs in Toronto, hundreds across Canada, and thousands upon thousands around the world.
John got his start in Roncesvalles Village in the 1950s when he started work at Pollocks Hardware Store. He bought the store in 1976 and it rapidly became one of the top stores in the Home Hardware chain.
In 1986 John was instrumental in founding the Roncesvalles Village BIA, a merger of two smaller BIAs on Roncesvalles Avenue. He served as chair of the Roncesvalles Village BAI for many years and still sits on the board as Chair Emeritus.
John has also served as president of TABIA, the Toronto Association of BIAs from 2002 until 2010, returning to the role in 2012.
We congratulate John for this richly deserved award!
The Roncesvalles Village BIA was honoured to receive a declaration from the City of Toronto at this week’s TABIA Awards Night, held at the beautiful Palais Royale.
The Roncesvalles Village BIA received congratulations on reaching its twenty-eighth anniversary, making us one of the older BIAs in Toronto (and the world.)
The Roncesvalles Village BIA was founded in 1986. Its first chair (now chair emeritus) was John Wakulat, and expanded in 2007 to include all of Roncesvalles Avenue. Through its twenty-eight year history, the BIA has reached many milestones, including one of the City’s first BIA graffiti removal programs, innovative streetscape designs, and successful promotional events, most notably the Roncesvalles Polish Festival, now acknowledged as the largest celebration of Polish culture anywhere outside of Poland.
On November 16 there was a brief ceremony at City Hall to thank the hard-working volunteers of City of Toronto agencies, boards and commissions. Many hundreds of people volunteer their free time to serve on various boards, including those that govern the 72 BIAs in Toronto.
Outgoing mayor David Miller thanked the assembled people for their freely given time and labour to work to make Toronto a better place, and specifically mentioned BIAs as being a tremendous asset to the City, and one of Toronto’s greatest exports. (As you may know, the world’s first BIA was established in Bloor West Village in 1970.)
Representing the Roncesvalles Village BIA in the photo at left, RVBIA Coordinator Keith Denning, RVBIA Chair Tony Cauch, Mayor David Miller, and RVBIA Chair of Beautification Committee John Bowker.
Vote early and often, people! Roncesvalles Avenue has been shortlisted in the second annual CBC Great Canadian Song Quest. You can vote by visiting this link: www.cbc.ca/radio2/songquest/provinces/ontario/roncesvalles_avenue.html
At the time of this posting, Roncesvalles Avenue is a close second! You can vote once a day for Roncesvalles until October 1.
A number of you know one of the newest and funkiest businesses on Roncesvalles Avenue. Mari Cla Ro, at 457 Roncesvalles, is a store that manufactures and retails purses, handbags, panniers, briefcases and the like, made entirely from recycled materials.
Mari Cla Ro opened on Roncesvalles last year, and on June 15 Sven, Willa and the rest of the Mari Cla Ro crew received a Innovative Business award at Cheri DiNovo’s annual Spring Levee. (In the photo, from left to right, Cheri DiNovo, Willa Murray, Sven Schlegel.)
Sven and Willa are also active members of the BIA’s Marketing and Promotions Committee. We congratulate Mari Cla Ro for their award, and thank them for doing their part in making our neighbourhood great!