The DUKE Heights Planning team works with the City of Toronto and local stakeholders to implement public realm enhancement projects that improve the streetscape of the neighbourhood, creating vibrant, functional spaces that welcome visitors and encourages them to engage with our members.
BIAs were created with the premise that local businesses working collectively through a BIA will be more effective in organizing and facilitating improvement in the local community. Therefore, creating a strong and distinct image for the business community contributing to more effective marketing of the area.
DUKE Heights motivation to highlight and promote the BIA Business district within and throughout the broader community through brand recognition is essential and at the forefront of establishing an effective business district.
The area between Dufferin to Keele, and Steeles to Sheppard is undergoing a seismic shift. The old industrial heartland of Toronto is slowly emerging as the hyper-connected new economic hub of the City. Here are a few studies and presentations conducted by the City of Toronto, and other organizations, about the changes coming to the DUKE Heights community.
The DUKE Heights area is undergoing an incredible level of transformation and development. Soon the area will have LRT, Subway and Metrolinx crisscrossing the area coupled with continuous inputs from the City in beautification. Members can also now enjoy several free services from the BIA.
DUKE Heights BIA Board of Directors were successfulin reviving the 1950’s Radio Tower at 1026 Finch Avenue West which was slated for demolition in 2018. The Radio Tower, formally utilized as a two-way radio communications tower for police and emergency services has since been modernized to include the new “DUKE Tower”. A sole standing structure that features the BIA branded logo by day and a lit view of colorful strands of lights at night. A new pedestrian seating area and dedicated inaugural plaque is also located at the base of tower.
Formally, utilized as a two-way radio communications tower for police and emergency service vehicles, the Radio Tower was slated for demolition in 2018. With the intervention of DUKE Heights BIA Board, the dedication of staff and after years of planning, the Radio Tower has since been modernised to include a new sole standing structure that is now a highly recognized monument in the DUKE Heights BIA business community. The tower features the colourful DUKE Heights BIA branded logo by day, and a lit view of colorful strands of lights at night. In addition, a welcoming new pedestrian seating area and dedicated inaugural plaque are centrally located at the base of tower.
In 2018, the BIA Board initialized a wide branding campaign to distinctively showcase the BIA Business district both day and night through the introduction of DUKE Marker pillars.
Completed in 2020, the DUKE Markers align the main street intersections and interior roadways as welcoming gateways into the BIA business community. DUKE Markers are valuable civic improvements that are solar powered, environmentally friendly and sustainable catalysts that add beautification to the public right of way and contribute to achieving the overall branding vision for the BIA.
Shaping the identity of the BIA Business Community by taking the DUKE name to the streets became part of the defining vision to create a distinctive business district. The BIAs name and logo is vibrantly visible on varied street furniture elements and signage and is proudly displayed throughout DUKE Heights BIA.
Gateway Improvement - Dufferin Street and Finch Avenue West
The corner of Dufferin Street and Finch Avenue will be renewed as a gateway into the DUKE Heights BIA. The intersection will house the BIA logo and welcome sign with solar powered lighting, pedestrian friendly commuter seating area surrounded by new shrubs and plantings. A welcome refuge for one of the busiest intersections in the BIA, visitors, customers and BIA business employees will now be greeted daily during their travel with a modern and vibrant corner landscape.
Improving the BIA main and interior roadways are integral in maintaining the functioning and accessibility of vehicular, transit and pedestrian traffic into the BIA. Working in collaboration with the City of Toronto, Chesswood Drive will see streetscape improvements implemented in 2023.
Plans for a new resurfaced roadway, a cycle track, new and enhanced sidewalks, BIA branded street furniture, new trees and landscaped median, and the addition of a new traffic signal at the intersection of Chesswood Drive and Champagne Drive.
Visit the City of Toronto website for more details - Learn More
Improving and promoting environmental sustainability is essential in creating balanced communities. DUKE’s most recent Finch Street Rail Embankments Shrubs and Naturalization Project (2021) saw the installation of over 200 shrubs on the northwest, southwest and southeast side of Finch Avenue West. This initiative is in addition to the over 2000 trees planted by the City of Toronto throughout the DUKE Heights BIA over the course of the last few years.
The DUKE Heights BIA area continues to be a beacon for transit, pedestrian and vehicular connectivity, successfully enabling businesses the advantageous opportunity to be located in a highly accessible area. The Finch West LRT station will be centrally located at the Keele/Finch Intersection, one of the main gateways into the BIA. Anticipated to be completed in 2023, the newly transformed intersection will have DUKE branded pedestrian lights and street furniture, dedicated cycle lanes, future public art, landscaped streetscape and median with a variety of new trees and shrubs.
Visit link to Metrolinx News for drone footage of the construction of Finch West LRT - Learn More
The BIA continues to be proactive in keeping interests of businesses at the forefront of discussions and recommendations in the areas of planning and development. Part of our mandate is to advocate on behalf of the BIA Businesses and the Business Improvement Area as a whole.
The BIA hosted a public Open House followed by a submission to City of Toronto Planning of the proposed Zoning Bylaw Report recommending zoning change considerations within the BIA area.
Phase 1 of this process involves the removal of permissions for specific land uses not permitted in General Employment Areas or Core Employment Areas under the policy direction of OPA 231. This included specified land uses within all former general zoning By-laws across the City including the Former North York By-law 7625 which applies to the DUKE Heights area.
The recommendations highlighted there are two existing zoning bylaws that currently overlap in the BIA, amendments to parking requirements are needed for new developments to bring them in line with City of Toronto standards and removal of the “H” (Holding) symbol for land development on main arterial roads.
The City of Toronto commenced a two-phase review of the City’s zoning framework for Employment Areas. Phase 1 of this process involves the removal of permissions for specific land uses not permitted in General Employment Areas or Core Employment Areas under the policy direction of OPA 231. This included specified land uses within all former general zoning By-laws across the City including the Former North York By-law 7625 which applies to the DUKE Heights area.
Analysis undertaken by the DUKE Heights BIA identified approximately 550 businesses, property owners and property managers within the BIA area (see map below) who would be significantly impacted by these proposed amendments.
Access DUKE Heights reports and Toronto City Council Decision for further information:
Toronto City Council Decision – November 2021 - Learn More
City Planning will report back to Planning Housing Committee on Phase 1 Zoning Conformity Bylaw recommendations and the removal of permissions for sensitive uses in 2023. Phase 2 (to add permitted uses and possibly eliminate the “H”) will be reported back at the same time as Phase 1 Review.
The City of Toronto, Duke Heights BIA and Emery Village BIA came together to undertake the Finch Goods Movement Study (FGMS). The study was initiated in alignment with the construction of the new Finch West Light Rail Transit (LRT). The emergence of the LRT provided the opportunity to review the modes and movement of transportation, identify and integrate these findings to address matters of future shipping and freight delivery; while also considering the safety and efficiency of travel for commuters, transit users, cyclists and pedestrians.
The Finch Goods Movement Study area includes Dufferin St. to the east, west to Islington Ave. and Highways 407 and 401 (north-south).
The final Public Information Centre anticipated in 2023 - Learn More
DUKE Heights BIA participated in the City of Toronto stakeholder consultation process of the City-Wide Review of Parking Standards Zoning By-Law (569-2013). DUKE Heights BIA submitted a Zoning By-Law Parking Requirements Review report providing recommendations on the current parking standards.
Toronto City Council decision - Learn More