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How do I apply for a business licence issued by the City of Toronto?


Each licence type requires different information and documentation to apply. If you need to apply for a licence issued by the City of Toronto, you must do so in person at the Licensing and Permit Issuing Office at the East York Civic Centre, 850 Coxwell Ave, 3rd floor.

For most licences, you will need to present identification documents for either yourself, your partnership or the corporation. For sole proprietors, these identification requirements are often two pieces of government-issued identification, one of which must have your photograph, from the following list:

  • Canadian Passport (photo ID)
  • Driver’s Licence (photo ID)
  • Canadian Birth Certificate
  • Citizenship card
  • Permanent Resident Card
  • SIN Card (Social Insurance Number)
  • Valid Work Permit

Because certain business licence applications require additional documentation, such as proof of compliance with the City’s zoning by-laws, you should familiarize yourself with the requirements of the specific licence(s) for which you will apply. Requirements for individual licences and permits are listed in the search results of licence search tools such as BizPaL (https://services.bizpal-perle.ca/) or can be obtained from the City’s permits and licences website (https://www.toronto.ca/permits-licences/).


If you have any questions, comments or concerns, please contact the DUKE Law team.

  • Office hours | Monday – Friday | 9:00am – 5:00pm
  • Drop-in hours | Monday | Tuesday | Thursday | 2:00pm – 3:00pm
  • By phone | (416) 739-1621 ext. 19
  • Website | https://dukeheights.ca/law/

In partnership with Osgoode Law School we provide free legal information to the DUKE Heights BIA community and beyond. Whether you are a start-up, a small business owner or an entrepreneur, DUKE Law can be your first-hand resource in finding answers and clarifications to the legal aspects of any business query.

Disclaimer: DUKE Law service is available to be accessed only for free legal information and it cannot be substituted for legal advice from a trained legal professional.


Why Client Satisfaction is Key to Business Growth




Written by: Atul Oka, Senior Director of Strategy and Business Development, DUKE Heights BIA



Nov 07, 2019

You have tried various marketing channels, and have also hired some dedicated sales people to boost the visibility of your company and increase sales. These are tried and tested ways of growing sales and have worked for many large companies, so they should work for you right?

Marketing and actively pursuing sales are essential for any business, but the most effective sales generator for any business is much closer than you think. I’m talking about your existing clients, whether they are aunt Maggie next door, or the large law firm downtown. Let me explain why.

According to the latest Global Trust in Advertising report by Nielsen, which surveyed more than 28,000 people across 56 countries, 92 percent of consumers around the world say they trust earned media, such as recommendations from friends and family, above all other forms of advertising.

What does this mean? It means that your existing clients are much more important than you think. People generally heed recommendations or warnings from those they trust, making your existing customers your biggest advocates or antagonists. In fact, negative interactions with a business are spread to twice as many people as positive ones. This is generally known as word of mouth marketing and could be solely responsible for the success or failure of your business.

The next step would then be finding the best way to ensure as many of your current customers become advocates and at the same time minimise your antagonists. Sounds logical doesn’t it? Many companies call this “client service”. The concept has been around since humans first traded goods or services with each other, yet many businesses do not know the first step in understanding and leveraging it to best effect.

client-satisfactionIt all starts with measuring customer satisfaction. The simplest and most effective tool for this may be the Net Promoter Score (NPS). All you have to do, is to get as many of your customers as possible to answer a simple question: “On a scale of zero to ten, with zero being Not likely at all, and ten being Extremely likely; How likely is it that you would recommend our company/product/service to a friend or colleague?”

Now break up responses into three chunks:

  • Promoters (9-10). These are your happiest and most loyal customers, and are most likely to refer you to others. Use them for testimonials, affiliates, etc.
  • Passives (7-8). These customers are happy, but are unlikely to refer you to friends. They are just as ready to buy from you as your competitors.
  • Detractors (0-6). Detractors are those customers that are unhappy and can be dangerous for your small business and brand, by spreading negative messages and reviews. Figure out their problems and fix them!

We now have some useful information, but let’s move forward and actually calculate your Net Promoter Score (NPS). You do this subtracting the percentage of Detractors from the percentage of Promoters. This net score will tell you your net word of mouth influence.

Here are some NPS scores compiled by Customer Guru for well known companies and brands. Costo has a net positive score of 79 meaning a LOT of existing customers are saying great things about the company. Interestingly both Facebook and MacDonald’s have negative scores, -21 and -8 respectively. Go ahead and find out where you stand!

Business author Michael LeBoeuf is famously credited for saying “A satisfied customer is the best strategy of them all.”

Councillor’s Corner – Ward 7: Fall Update



November 07, 2019

Dear Resident,
I am happy to announce that my Autumn Newsletter will be released this month. In this edition you will find more community updates, photos, and tips for the winter season. You will receive a copy at your doorstep and it will be made available online on my website and social media accounts starting Monday, November 18.

Ten Urban Forestry crews were dispatched from our local Emery Yard recently to assist Winnipeg in the wake of a storm that left many spaces in need of serious repairs. Our crews are skilled and capable of providing emergency response support to our neighbours who are working to restore facilities and utilities. I joined Mayor Tory and staff from Emergency Services and Forestry for the send-off.


As the Poverty Reduction Advocate, I was also able to join the Mayor, Councillor Fletcher and Councillor Thompson to announce the new Production Assistant Training Program. This program is part of xoTO’s initiatives to offer young people with hands-on work experience and make the film industry more inclusive and representative of Toronto’s racial and ethnic diversity. This part of the program supports young black adults ages 18 to 29. Astrolab Studios helps facilitate the program along with key partners, including the Poverty Reduction Office here at the City of Toronto, The United Way, POV’s 3rd Street and CEE Centre Toronto – Centre for Young Black Professionals. HBO has offered placements for participants on two upcoming productions. It is important that our City continues to create pathways to meaningful mentorship opportunities.

Please stay-tuned for information about upcoming events in Humber River-Black Creek. As always, my team and I are available to answer any questions that you might have.

Looking forward to seeing you soon!


City Councillor Anthony Perruzza
Ward 7 – Humber River-Black Creek

Councillor’s Corner – Ward 6: Preparing for the Winter Season – Protecting and Improving our Infrastructure and Roads



November 07, 2019

Dear Neighbours,

Now that school is in session, road repairs and infrastructure upgrades are underway, it is time to prepare for the winter season.

To protect our businesses, homes and streets from floods, we are renewing our aging infrastructure, improving water distribution and reducing the risk of watermains breaking and basement flooding through the city approved 2019 Capital Works Program. We will be replacing watermains and resurfacing roads around the Duke Heights BIA in places that require it most.  The City must do its part in maintaining our growing infrastructure.

Keeping our loved ones and most vulnerable safe is one of my top priorities. In response to complaints about unsafe driving on Wilmington Avenue, we installed flexi-posts in front of Wilmington Elementary Public School to deter unsafe driving. Our office is committed to working with local residents and students for their safety. Additionally, children who bike to school require a safe storage space for their bicycles. We are working with TDSB and investing in more bicycle stops on school grounds.

Employees depend on the efficiency of public transit to ensure they arrive on time to work, return home, and have access to local resources, including but not limited to recreation and health care. We are well aware that the #41 Keele bus route has been one of the most over-crowded routes on the TTC. We are working with Toronto Transit Commission to improve bus services on Keele Street to increase frequency of the buses and reduce commute time. We have also been working on modifying existing bus routes to include Stanley Greene neighbourhood on the #41 Keele express route. Finally, we are insisting on a bus stop directly in front of the Humber River Hospital on Wilson Avenue. This stop will grant patients and visitors easier access to health care services and family visitations.

I am always available. If you wish to connect, contact me at Councillor_Pasternak@toronto.ca

Research shows you may be losing customers without knowing it



November 01, 2019

We now live in a digital world, and as the internet and digital technology both become more deeply rooted in the basic functions of human life, this creates major implications for all businesses, regardless of industry.

Research from Stanford University and Blue Corona Analytics has revealed 2 key findings for business owners:

  • 75% of people admit to making judgments about a company’s credibility based on their website’s design.
  • 80% of consumers research a business online before making a purchase.

This means that even business owners’ in-store sales are still at the mercy of the internet. This is why successful businesses make it a priority to invest in a compelling website; because a website is often the first impression to potential new customers.

When potential clients search your business or see your ads, they usually end up at your website. If it’s compelling, it can win you customers. If it’s not compelling or not as good as your competitor’s website, or if you simply don’t have one, then you are likely losing customers without even knowing it.

This is one of the reasons why more and more businesses in DUKE Heights are taking advantage of the $2500 grant to help fund a new website and improve their business reputation. The good news is that this government approved grant does not have to be paid back (it’s a grant, not a loan), and it’s quite easy to apply for. If your business needs a new website, this may be a great opportunity for you to get an extra $2500 to get started and make sure you aren’t losing customers online.

If you’d like to find out if you qualify, and how you can secure the grant, please reach out to us or fill out the form and we will be happy to answer your questions.

Submit Your Contact Information

DUKE Law – Our Free Legal Information Service is back!



October 01, 2019

In partnership with Osgoode Law School we are bringing back the DUKE Law service which provides free legal information to the DUKE Heights BIA community and beyond.

Whether you are a start-up, a small business owner or an entrepreneur, DUKE Law can be your first-hand resource in finding answers and clarifications to the legal aspects of any business query.

Mark your calendar as DUKE Law is set to reopen its doors from October 9th, 2019! The DUKE Law team equipped with Osgoode Law School students will be available for answering your questions.

Disclaimer: DUKE Law service is available to be accessed only for free legal information and it cannot be substituted for legal advice from a trained legal professional.

Questions, comments or concerns? Let us hear from you.

Tour de DUKE Heights – Children’s Bike Race held on October 05, 2019

October 05, 2019

While the “big” folks can race, so can the “little” ones!

After hiding behind the gloom for the past few days, the sun finally came out bright to smile at and welcome young riders on the tracks of the first ever Tour de DUKE Heights on October 05, 2019. The event took place on Canarctic Drive located in DUKE Heights BIA. It was a “special day” for children from surrounding communities who received their first bikes and helmets as gifts and then took part in a friendly race.

Toronto Mayor John Tory addressing children and parents at Tour de DUKE Heights 2019

DUKE Heights BIA co-hosted the first Tour de DUKE Heights with Toronto City Councillor Anthony Perruzza. The event was a success! Special thanks to the City Transportation and Traffic Management departments, TTC, EMS, Toronto Police, CultureLink Bike Hub and our volunteers for assisting in the day’s events.


The day started with a Cycling Education and Safety training session by CultureLink Bike Hub and bike trainer Hugh Smith, who is also a retired officer and one of the city’s first Bike Patrol Unit officers. This session aimed at guiding the young riders on essential skills and awareness of road safety.


With significant contribution from our sponsors we were able to provide 101 bikes to children from underprivileged families from the surrounding neighbourhoods. The Toronto City mayor, the local MPP and the City Councillor joined our Board of Directors at the inauguration ceremony.

To end the proceedings of the day full of excitement and fun, each racer was given a race medal and treats, so every kid was a winner!

Know your Customers – Understand where you need to focus your marketing efforts

October 01, 2019
Written by: Atul Oka, Senior Director of Strategy and Business Development, DUKE Heights BIA


Creating effective marketing messages, while sounding simple, is in reality one of the most difficult things to define because all prospective customers, are not all cookie cutter versions of each other. Every potential customer is different, with different wants, needs and aspirations. Do we know which customers are more likely to buy from us? Do we actively market to them, or do we try and reach all our potential customers by spreading our marketing message as wide as possible?

Our approach depends on what we hope to achieve with our marketing efforts. Traditionally marketing is aimed either at brand awareness, or sales.

Marketing for brand awareness is used to create and maintain visibility of our brand. It keeps our brand top of mind with potential customers and ensures that our company is well understood and positioned. Let’s take two brands owned by the same company but with very different positioning. Jaguar and Tata Motors are both part of the Tata Group. The Jaguar brand is perceived as an aspirational brand while Tata Motors is perceived as a lower cost, value for money brand. If you are planning on marketing for brand awareness, you need to be clear about what you want your brand to stand for.

Most small businesses however need to focus on targeted marketing to boost sales. But, how do we reach, and sell effectively, to our potential clients? Let’s take an example of a product or service from the same company and how it can apply to different markets. Imagine that you are a home baker that has a passion for cakes. Your biggest selling items are children’s birthday cakes and wedding cakes. To whom, and how, will you market each of your products? Ask yourself, who makes the purchase decision, and what type of media do they usually consume.

We all know that the bride has the final say for any wedding cake, so in this instance you know you need to target potential brides. Where would you advertise to make sure that you reach this target market? In bridal magazines and websites of course. Advertising on your community radio station might reach more people, but what percentage of listeners are actually looking for a wedding cake? Radio advertising may reach more people but will not translate into more sales.

Children’s birthdays are usually planned by moms, so how would you reach this market? Your best bet here, would be to advertise at party venues and party supply shops. You should note however that when it comes to small business, word of mouth is your most powerful marketing tool, so make sure that each and every client is satisfied with your service.

Wonder how we keep our clients satisfied? We will explore how to measure client service in our next article.

Hundreds of Jobseekers Participated in the Annual Opening Doors Job Fair



October 01, 2019

A hiring event took place at the National Event Venue located in the DUKE Heights BIA on Aug 29, 2019. The event was organized by the Mennonite New Life Centre of Toronto (MNLCT) to connect newcomer jobseekers with prospective employers hosted 15 employers from various fields. MNLCT is an organization from the BIA that works as a conduit to bring together diverse talent with employers who understand that to serve their diverse customer base, they need to have qualified and culturally competent staff.

mnlct-opening-doors-job-fair-2019 mnlct-opening-doors-job-fair-2019-3 mnlct-opening-doors-job-fair-2019-4

“We know that great candidates come through various locations, we are trying to connect them to the right opportunities”, said TD Bank’s Nima Hersi at the job fair. The fair was an opportunity for jobseekers to demonstrate their skills as well as network with employers.

“I have been able to move from table to table submitting my resume and having a chat with some of the employers. I am hoping to be contacted soon.” said Denis Wakigiri, one of the newcomers at the Fair. Leticia Esquivel, who oversees the HOPES program (Helping Our Newcomers Prepare for Employment Success) at MNLCT said, “The newcomers’ participation was high, this is a good example of how we can support them and the kind of activities they require since lack of employment is one of their main barriers.”

DUKE Heights BIA sponsored this event. This was a window for us to connect our member businesses with the right talents that they need. Events like this support one of our core objectives – driving employment in the area.

How this business transformed their brand for a year of growth, with $2500 in free funding



October 01, 2019

Last month we showed you how to secure $2500 in funding to grow your business with a Provincial grant which has no payback requirement. You can read more here.

Today we look at how a small business many of us may know, was able to use the grant to transform their brand and create a comprehensive growth strategy for the next 12 months.

The “Big Slice” has been serving Toronto with Italian food for close to 40 years. The founder Giuseppe Luciano helped pioneer the selling of pizza by-the-slice!


They opened a second location a couple years ago and needed help to boost sales at both locations. Guiseppe’s son Sebastiano secured the grant and put the money towards a new brand and website that both locations could benefit from. You can see it here.

In addition, they were able to develop a strategy to-

  • grow their reputation and ratings on google (already working);
  • develop 2 types of easy-to-make content to engage their customers;
  • develop a strategy to double their most profitable revenue stream;
  • develop a 52-week brand strategy to grow their loyal customer base.

They were able to do all this with a financial boost from the grant, which is still available to businesses like yours, regardless of which industry you’re in.

If you think your business needs a new website, brand or digital strategy, please fill out the form below.  We’ll put you in touch with an expert that can show you how to secure the grant, as well as grow your brand and business.

Submit Your Contact Information