Most if not all of you have walked passed Ling’s gift shop on Bloor Street. Mr. Alex Ling, an individual known to many as a champion of BIAs not only here in Toronto but nationally and internationally, passed away on September 24th.
Born on November 29, 1933, Mr. Ling was a key part in the group of local business owners who created and established the Bloor West Village BIA, the first BIA in the world. The success of the first BIA, Bloor West Village, inspired other retail districts to follow and become BIAs themselves. Today, there are 83 BIAs in the City of Toronto, and over 400 across the Province of Ontario. The BIA concept has been emulated throughout Canada, the United States and across the globe.
Alex Ling (Alexander Edward Ling) and his wife Helen moved to the Bloor West Village in Toronto in 1971. They thought they wouldn’t be so busy; however that was not the case. Alex became involved in the BIA right away. He was first elected as Chairperson in 1979 and worked very hard for the Bloor West Village BIA and the neighbourhood.
In the early 1980’s, with the help of City Hall, he started the Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas (TABIA) to give support to all BIAs in the City of Toronto. Alex ate and slept the BIA philosophy. He loved the work and the challenge of the job. He was TABIA’s President for 19 years and in 2001 he finally engineered himself to Past President. In 2004 Alex became Chairman of the Bloor West Village BIA by promising to continue to help out, staying on as a Board Member.
He was also the pioneer and the driving force behind the Solar Powered Conversion of the Tree Lighting and Gas Lanterns in Bloor West Village. They have since retired 45 hydro meters from the Tree Lighting Program – no more hydro bills, and no more burning of fossil fuel from the Gas Lanterns! They will soon have a total of 60 Solar Powered Gas-style Lanterns in the Village.
Alex was constantly championing and working for the cause of small business. He was instrumental in acquiring a lower discount rate for Merchant VISA and MasterCard for his members. He has worked with a number of insurance companies on group insurance for small business, as well as natural gas rebates for business and residents.