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What is a BIA?

The world’s very first Business Improvement Area was created in the Bloor-Jane area of west Toronto in 1970. Today, under the umbrella of the Ontario Business Improvement Area Association (OBIAA) there are more than 270 BIAs in Ontario, ranging in size from 60 to 2,000 businesses. The concept has also grown globally, with BIAs in Europe and countries such as Australia, New Zealand, Japan, South Africa and the United States.

OUR DOWNTOWN STRATFORD BIA was formed on August 27th, 1973. Making this the year we celebrate our 50th year!


Stratford BIA

The Downtown Stratford Business Improvement Area (BIA) is an association of downtown small business owners who work in partnership with the City of Stratford to create a thriving, competitive, and safe business area that attracts shoppers, diners, tourists and new business. By working collectively as a BIA, our local businesses have the organizational and funding capacity to be catalysts for civic improvement, enhancing the quality of life downtown and the City as a whole.

Every year a tax levy is collected from the approximate 320 businesses that fall within the BIA boundaries (please see attached map) and this is what makes up the BIA’s annual working budget. Membership to the BIA is automatic. If you fall within the boundary, a levy will be collected by the City and the business becomes a member.

The Stratford BIA consists of a Board of Management (please see list below) that oversees and is responsible for all the operations, activities, and decisions of our BIA. The positions are a four year term that runs concurrently with city council terms. Our Board comprises eight small business owners/employees and one City Councillor. Four staff also support the operations in the role of General Manager, Social Media, Communications and Board Assistant.

Downtown Stratford BIA Aims and Objectives

  1. To maintain Downtown Stratford BIA as an active and viable area.
  2. To beautify the City centre and to encourage preservation of the City centre’s architectural heritage, including appropriate building renovation by private businesses.
  3. To encourage more use of the Downtown Stratford businesses by both local residents and by visitors.
  4. To encourage a forum in which the downtown business community can develop opinions and programs which will benefit the social, economic and physical quality of life in Stratford.
  5. To work in a co-operative manner with city officials and other business groups, never neglecting to maintain Downtown Stratford’s unique position.
  6. To promote Downtown Stratford as a special place in which to shop, work, visit, or live.

Board Directors


Shawn Malvern

Chair, Financial Advisor at WK Financial Planning

I saw the partnerships and work done in the early stages of the pandemic, especially the role of downtown Stratford, and wanted to be a part of that. I want to be able to use my very unique skill set to help foster local economic development and revitalization.

board steph 1

Stephanie Theodoropoulos

Vice-Chair, Real Estate Broker at Sutton Group

I love downtown Stratford. It has always been a big part of my life. Growing up close to downtown, it's where I would spend time with my friends. My parents both owned businesses downtown, and it was home to all my favourite restaurants and snack spots. Now as an adult, I still live downtown! I'm lucky that my office is located here, and of course it still has all my favourite restaurants and shops. Downtown Stratford embodies a wonderful sense of community for everyone who lives here and visits.

Jennifer Birmingham

Jennifer Birmingham

Treasurer, Owner of DtS TBA and The Bruce Hotel

Though I have been a long time business owner in Stratford, I am excited my new venture in the downtown core will allow me to contribute to this vibrant area of the city I have enjoyed so much over the last 25 years.

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Melissa Orr

Marketing at Orr Insurance

As an entrepreneur, I draw inspiration from the vibrancy of our downtown area and variety of independent businesses. Being actively engaged and giving back is a personal priority. I aspire to advocate for fellow small business owners in our downtown area, working towards meaningful improvements for our community!

this could be you

This could be you

Future Board member

We are looking for a vibrant member of the downtown to join our board of Directors. interested? Contact [email protected]

Carly Douglas

Carly Douglas

Marketing and communications leader at stratford festival

I am volunteering my time with the BIA to enhance the connection between the Stratford Festival and our vibrant downtown community. With so many synergies to spark, I look forward to discovering new ways of collaborating and growing together!

board megan 1

Megan Chisholm

Secretary, Manager at Grace the Boutique and Modo Yoga Stratford

Downtown Stratford is a special place, with so much to offer both residents and vistors. I really enjoy being part of the BIA community, and I want to give back to the city that has made me realize how important community truly is. I look forward to representing the two downtown businesses I am fortunate to be employed at.

board jo-dee 1

Councillor Jo-Dee Burbach

City of Stratford

As a small business owner and entrepreneur as well as a City Councillor, I’m excited to serve on the Downtown Stratford BIA this term. It’s my privilege to act as a bridge between business owners and the City to help sustain and improve our vibrant downtown core.

BIA Staff

Jamie-Pritchard (1)


General Manager
Kim Griffiths (1)

Kim Griffiths

Membership and Animation Liaison
Sara-Bradford-2 (1)

Sara Bradford

Content and Social Media Manager

Christina Phillips

Administrative Assistant

Board Meetings

The Downtown Stratford BIA conducts its Board Meeting on the fourth Tuesday of each month at 6:15 pm, at the Stratford Public Library. All BIA members, property owners and the public are welcome to attend. Please contact [email protected] for meeting details.


Beautification / Holiday (seasonal) Working Group
Advocacy & Education
If you are interested in joining a sub-committee, please contact [email protected].

Public Statements

January 29, 2024 – Contest – Winter Walk Around the Block

January 23, 2023 – Invest Stratford and Downtown Stratford BIA Announces Support Through the Government of Canada Funded by My Main Street, Local Business Accelerator Program – Ten businesses receive $10K each from My Main Street

September 24, 2021 – The National Day for Truth and Reconciliation September 30, 2021

June 2, 2021 – Commitment of responsibility, advocacy and reconciliation with the Indigenous Peoples of Turtle Island

April 6, 2021 – Provincial lockdown impact on Stratford city centre businesses

July 27, 2020 – Ally-ship and accountability towards diversity and inclusion within Stratford