Crosstown construction puts the hurt on businesses along Eglinton

News Jun 29, 2017 by Dominik Kurek City Centre Mirror

The Crosstown LRT transit line promises to be a great asset for moving large numbers of people through the city of Toronto.

But, the service is not scheduled to open until 2021, and while residents and businesses along Eglinton Avenue are awaiting their reward, those same businesses are hurting through years of construction.

“I’m happy they’re doing construction and there are going to be subway stations here,” said Flowers of the World owner Liana Margaryan. “But I don’t know how long I can survive here.”

Margaryan’s floral business is located between Mt. Pleasant Road and Yonge Street, sandwiched by construction for two stations, which she’s been told will take two years to build.

Her business is surviving on online orders, as walk-in customers have disappeared.

“If you put out the signs and the flowers, whatever you do, it doesn’t help. There are no walk-ins,” she said. “Walk-ins are the most important thing for flower shops.”

She’s not the only one dealing with construction headaches, either.

Drivers and customers are simply skipping Eglinton to avoid construction and as a result fewer customers are coming into the shops. Parking is also a problem as street parking gets removed, at times, to move traffic through reduced lanes and construction sites are placed in front of stores, blocking them off from view. Access always remains open to the stores, but customers have to walk around construction structures to get there and pedestrians are often forced to change sides of the road when sidewalks get closed.

“The construction, the noise, the dust,” lamented Eddy Spinola, owner of La Carnita, Good Fortune and Sweet Jesus restaurants at Yonge and Eglinton.

He said on many days he can’t use his patio and in the mornings he and his staff dust off the tables inside. His beer supplier only delivers on Saturdays now as access is blocked off during the week.

“How are we supposed to do our business — where we have a licence and pay our taxes to run our business and so does Brewers Retail (his beer supplier) — and they’re telling you, you can’t do it. It’s a little unfair,” Espinola said. “It’s just been an ongoing struggle for me for years at this location.”

He said he’s seen three neighbouring longtime businesses close since construction started.

In Leaside, in the city’s east end, things are no better. Businesses that spoke with Metroland Media Toronto said their sales have dropped since construction started.

One shop owner at Laird and Eglinton said he’s lost 30 per cent in sales and argues parking enforcement is too aggressive on side streets when Eglinton parking is reduced or sometimes removed.

Another shop owner, Sam To, said his business, Mr & Salon + Spa, lost 20 per cent in sales.

“Right now, few people are walking in,” To said.

Metrolinx, the provincial transit agency co-ordinating the project, said it’s working closely with businesses, business improvement areas (BIAs), city agencies such as Toronto Parking Authority and others to reduce the impact of construction.

It worked with the city to relax off-street parking restrictions when parking spots along Eglinton have been eliminated and it ensured businesses maintain access to their buildings and entrances, including doorways and driveways, Metrolinx spokesperson Vanessa Barrasa said. Its shop-local campaigns let customers know Eglinton businesses are still open.

For business owners such as Enzo Torrone, who is the Fairbank Village BIA chair, Metrolinx hasn’t done enough. He said construction is leaving shopping areas dirty and dusty, making them uninviting. Construction sites make it hard for people to get around and parking spots are removed, so people park illegally on side streets and return to find parking tickets.

“It’s so hard that sometimes people just say forget it, I don’t have the time to get around these barricades, I don’t have time to spend with this, I’m gone. And this person is not coming back,” Torrone said.

Joe Torrone, Enzo’s father and owner of Dynevor Furniture, said that while his sales are down, his property tax went up nearly 50 per cent in 2017 over last year.

“We don’t make no business, but we have to pay more taxes. On account of maybe the subway, our value is going up, but it should go down, not up, because in those three years (of construction) we’re going to die,” Joe Torrone said. He pointed to a tiered commercial property tax that charges a greater rate on commercial properties valued over $1 million. Since 2008 in Toronto, a lower tax rate applies to commercial properties for the first $1 million of assessment and a higher rate for anything over $1 million. This year was the first time Torrone was hit with the upper tier on his property tax.

Property values are established by the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC), city officials said, and 2017 is the first taxation year of MPAC’s most recent reassessment.

Crosstown construction puts the hurt on businesses along Eglinton

Metrolinx says it's working to reduce construction impact

News Jun 29, 2017 by Dominik Kurek City Centre Mirror

The Crosstown LRT transit line promises to be a great asset for moving large numbers of people through the city of Toronto.

But, the service is not scheduled to open until 2021, and while residents and businesses along Eglinton Avenue are awaiting their reward, those same businesses are hurting through years of construction.

“I’m happy they’re doing construction and there are going to be subway stations here,” said Flowers of the World owner Liana Margaryan. “But I don’t know how long I can survive here.”

Margaryan’s floral business is located between Mt. Pleasant Road and Yonge Street, sandwiched by construction for two stations, which she’s been told will take two years to build.

Her business is surviving on online orders, as walk-in customers have disappeared.

“If you put out the signs and the flowers, whatever you do, it doesn’t help. There are no walk-ins,” she said. “Walk-ins are the most important thing for flower shops.”

She’s not the only one dealing with construction headaches, either.

Drivers and customers are simply skipping Eglinton to avoid construction and as a result fewer customers are coming into the shops. Parking is also a problem as street parking gets removed, at times, to move traffic through reduced lanes and construction sites are placed in front of stores, blocking them off from view. Access always remains open to the stores, but customers have to walk around construction structures to get there and pedestrians are often forced to change sides of the road when sidewalks get closed.

“The construction, the noise, the dust,” lamented Eddy Spinola, owner of La Carnita, Good Fortune and Sweet Jesus restaurants at Yonge and Eglinton.

He said on many days he can’t use his patio and in the mornings he and his staff dust off the tables inside. His beer supplier only delivers on Saturdays now as access is blocked off during the week.

“How are we supposed to do our business — where we have a licence and pay our taxes to run our business and so does Brewers Retail (his beer supplier) — and they’re telling you, you can’t do it. It’s a little unfair,” Espinola said. “It’s just been an ongoing struggle for me for years at this location.”

He said he’s seen three neighbouring longtime businesses close since construction started.

In Leaside, in the city’s east end, things are no better. Businesses that spoke with Metroland Media Toronto said their sales have dropped since construction started.

One shop owner at Laird and Eglinton said he’s lost 30 per cent in sales and argues parking enforcement is too aggressive on side streets when Eglinton parking is reduced or sometimes removed.

Another shop owner, Sam To, said his business, Mr & Salon + Spa, lost 20 per cent in sales.

“Right now, few people are walking in,” To said.

Metrolinx, the provincial transit agency co-ordinating the project, said it’s working closely with businesses, business improvement areas (BIAs), city agencies such as Toronto Parking Authority and others to reduce the impact of construction.

It worked with the city to relax off-street parking restrictions when parking spots along Eglinton have been eliminated and it ensured businesses maintain access to their buildings and entrances, including doorways and driveways, Metrolinx spokesperson Vanessa Barrasa said. Its shop-local campaigns let customers know Eglinton businesses are still open.

For business owners such as Enzo Torrone, who is the Fairbank Village BIA chair, Metrolinx hasn’t done enough. He said construction is leaving shopping areas dirty and dusty, making them uninviting. Construction sites make it hard for people to get around and parking spots are removed, so people park illegally on side streets and return to find parking tickets.

“It’s so hard that sometimes people just say forget it, I don’t have the time to get around these barricades, I don’t have time to spend with this, I’m gone. And this person is not coming back,” Torrone said.

Joe Torrone, Enzo’s father and owner of Dynevor Furniture, said that while his sales are down, his property tax went up nearly 50 per cent in 2017 over last year.

“We don’t make no business, but we have to pay more taxes. On account of maybe the subway, our value is going up, but it should go down, not up, because in those three years (of construction) we’re going to die,” Joe Torrone said. He pointed to a tiered commercial property tax that charges a greater rate on commercial properties valued over $1 million. Since 2008 in Toronto, a lower tax rate applies to commercial properties for the first $1 million of assessment and a higher rate for anything over $1 million. This year was the first time Torrone was hit with the upper tier on his property tax.

Property values are established by the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC), city officials said, and 2017 is the first taxation year of MPAC’s most recent reassessment.

Crosstown construction puts the hurt on businesses along Eglinton

Metrolinx says it's working to reduce construction impact

News Jun 29, 2017 by Dominik Kurek City Centre Mirror

The Crosstown LRT transit line promises to be a great asset for moving large numbers of people through the city of Toronto.

But, the service is not scheduled to open until 2021, and while residents and businesses along Eglinton Avenue are awaiting their reward, those same businesses are hurting through years of construction.

“I’m happy they’re doing construction and there are going to be subway stations here,” said Flowers of the World owner Liana Margaryan. “But I don’t know how long I can survive here.”

Margaryan’s floral business is located between Mt. Pleasant Road and Yonge Street, sandwiched by construction for two stations, which she’s been told will take two years to build.

Her business is surviving on online orders, as walk-in customers have disappeared.

“If you put out the signs and the flowers, whatever you do, it doesn’t help. There are no walk-ins,” she said. “Walk-ins are the most important thing for flower shops.”

She’s not the only one dealing with construction headaches, either.

Drivers and customers are simply skipping Eglinton to avoid construction and as a result fewer customers are coming into the shops. Parking is also a problem as street parking gets removed, at times, to move traffic through reduced lanes and construction sites are placed in front of stores, blocking them off from view. Access always remains open to the stores, but customers have to walk around construction structures to get there and pedestrians are often forced to change sides of the road when sidewalks get closed.

“The construction, the noise, the dust,” lamented Eddy Spinola, owner of La Carnita, Good Fortune and Sweet Jesus restaurants at Yonge and Eglinton.

He said on many days he can’t use his patio and in the mornings he and his staff dust off the tables inside. His beer supplier only delivers on Saturdays now as access is blocked off during the week.

“How are we supposed to do our business — where we have a licence and pay our taxes to run our business and so does Brewers Retail (his beer supplier) — and they’re telling you, you can’t do it. It’s a little unfair,” Espinola said. “It’s just been an ongoing struggle for me for years at this location.”

He said he’s seen three neighbouring longtime businesses close since construction started.

In Leaside, in the city’s east end, things are no better. Businesses that spoke with Metroland Media Toronto said their sales have dropped since construction started.

One shop owner at Laird and Eglinton said he’s lost 30 per cent in sales and argues parking enforcement is too aggressive on side streets when Eglinton parking is reduced or sometimes removed.

Another shop owner, Sam To, said his business, Mr & Salon + Spa, lost 20 per cent in sales.

“Right now, few people are walking in,” To said.

Metrolinx, the provincial transit agency co-ordinating the project, said it’s working closely with businesses, business improvement areas (BIAs), city agencies such as Toronto Parking Authority and others to reduce the impact of construction.

It worked with the city to relax off-street parking restrictions when parking spots along Eglinton have been eliminated and it ensured businesses maintain access to their buildings and entrances, including doorways and driveways, Metrolinx spokesperson Vanessa Barrasa said. Its shop-local campaigns let customers know Eglinton businesses are still open.

For business owners such as Enzo Torrone, who is the Fairbank Village BIA chair, Metrolinx hasn’t done enough. He said construction is leaving shopping areas dirty and dusty, making them uninviting. Construction sites make it hard for people to get around and parking spots are removed, so people park illegally on side streets and return to find parking tickets.

“It’s so hard that sometimes people just say forget it, I don’t have the time to get around these barricades, I don’t have time to spend with this, I’m gone. And this person is not coming back,” Torrone said.

Joe Torrone, Enzo’s father and owner of Dynevor Furniture, said that while his sales are down, his property tax went up nearly 50 per cent in 2017 over last year.

“We don’t make no business, but we have to pay more taxes. On account of maybe the subway, our value is going up, but it should go down, not up, because in those three years (of construction) we’re going to die,” Joe Torrone said. He pointed to a tiered commercial property tax that charges a greater rate on commercial properties valued over $1 million. Since 2008 in Toronto, a lower tax rate applies to commercial properties for the first $1 million of assessment and a higher rate for anything over $1 million. This year was the first time Torrone was hit with the upper tier on his property tax.

Property values are established by the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC), city officials said, and 2017 is the first taxation year of MPAC’s most recent reassessment.