Toronto plan could offer hope for struggling Eglinton businesses

News Oct 12, 2017 by Justin Skinner City Centre Mirror

The Eglinton Crosstown LRT promises to make the length of Eglinton Avenue more accessible to transit users, but as construction on the line continues, many businesses along the strip worry whether they’ll be around to witness the benefits.

In response to those concerns, Ward 15 councillor and TTC chair Josh Colle has put forth a motion that aims to help beleaguered store owners. The motion, passed at council on Tuesday, Oct. 3, asks the city manager to look into implementing 24 recommendations to promote business in the area, offer loans and other perks to affected stores, investigate the possibility of free or discounted parking in the area and more.

Colle said he was pushed to move the motion after speaking with some store owners in his Eglinton-Lawrence ward and elsewhere along Eglinton.

“It was largely informed by what I was hearing from businesses on Eglinton,” he said. “We’re looking at ways to increase the amount of parking available, looking at parking promotions and trying to better coordinate efforts between city departments.”

Other key features of Colle’s motion include the possibility of waiving street fees for festivals, designating Eglinton as a Cultural Hotspot with arts and culture events, freezing property tax assessments, looking at tax deferrals for affected businesses, and using City funds on print, radio and television ads to promote the fact that Eglinton is indeed still open for business.

While he is confident that many of his recommendations will be relatively easy to implement, he noted that his motion also features some challenging requests.

“The most difficult part will probably be finding ways to offer forgivable loans, incentives and tax deferrals to ensure businesses can survive,” Colle said.

Many of the proposals will require buy-in from the City, Metrolinx and other parties, making the passing of the motion at council a mere first step.

Nick Alampi, chair of the York Eglinton BIA, said the measures are welcome but noted there is no simple cure for many businesses in the area. Hoarding and fencing along many segments of Eglinton block many storefronts from view, making walk-up business less likely even as parking has become harder to come by.

“We’re beginning to lose any form of visual advertisement,” he said. “Businesses are losing momentum – they work hard to stay in business with the construction and then (owners) come to their place and they’re just looking at a green fence in front of their store.”

Alampi added that fencing and hoarding have also led to narrower sidewalks along long stretches of Eglinton.

“You’ve got an area where you can’t see 25 or 30 businesses because of the fencing and there’s just a two-and-a-half foot pathway in front of them,” he said.

He recalled one new business owner opening up shop one day and arriving the next to find scaffolding erected right in front of his business.

“It’s disheartening what’s happening right now,” he said. “There’s no way of figuring out how to drive business to the area.”

John Ferrari, owner of Latina Ladies Wear at 1608 Eglinton Ave. W. said construction has led to the removal of a nearby traffic light in addition to the issues caused by hoarding and fencing in front of his store.

“A lot of customers can’t access us – a lot of elderly customers can’t get through here and when they took the traffic light out, they stopped coming,” he said.

The area where his store is located has been particularly hard hit as it is near the Crosstown line’s Oakwood stop. Transit stops necessarily require more work than simply laying down track, and businesses near where stops are being built are disproportionately affected. Because of that fact, Colle’s motion calls for greater incentives for those businesses.

While there is some street parking nearby, Ferrari said workers working on the Crosstown line often fill those spots when they arrive for their shifts first thing in the morning. With so many factors working against him and other business owners in the area, he said business has been “almost zero” over the past few weeks.

“Right now, I don’t know how much longer I can keep going,” he said. “We need access, we need parking, and we need to reduce this hoarding.”

He was happy to hear of Colle’s plan to drive business to the area, but feels much more needs to be done to save stores along Eglinton.

“I’m sure anything will help, but will this be enough?” he asked.

Preethi Veerella, manager of Banjara Indian Cuisine near Eglinton and Redpath, said she has noticed a number of businesses closing down as construction has continued along Eglinton. She estimated that business at the midtown restaurant has declined by 30 to 40 per cent, and while things have picked up since fencing was removed from in front of the store, Banjara continues to be impacted by the construction.

“We’re lucky because we have another restaurant at Christie and Bloor that’s doing well and we’ve been able to pump money from that location into this one,” she said. “A lot of places don’t have another location that can do that. How are they supposed to survive?”

Veerella said that even with the fencing moved from in front of Banjara, the restaurant is still noticing a marked decrease in business due to the ongoing road work. Both Yonge Street and Mount Pleasant Road – on either side of the eatery – have hoarding and fencing erected, making it more difficult for cars to get through.

“(The fencing) is not directly in front of us anymore, but it’s still blocking traffic flow,” she said. “A lot of drivers will detour off of Eglinton because they don’t want to deal with the traffic, so people just don’t see us here.”

Tadashi Kojima of the Leaside Acupuncture and Shiatsu Clinic near Eglinton and Bayview said his business has been hit less hard than some others but said he has seen a noticeable decrease in customers with construction in full force at the nearby intersection.

“There’s almost no access to the parking area, and some people aren’t able to come to this area now,” he said. “People who come for maintenance (massage or acupuncture), a lot of them don’t come here anymore.”

While businesses continue to struggle to cope with the impacts of construction, Sheliza Esmail, administrator of the Eglinton Way BIA, said she is hopeful the motion put forth by Colle will provide much-needed support and relief.

“This is very positive news for the businesses on Eglinton that have been significantly impacted by the ongoing construction activities associated with the Crosstown LRT,” she said via email. “The initiatives put forward by the councillors are the exactly what the businesses need right now to remain competitive while construction continues to threaten the viability of their businesses.”

While Colle is eager to see the city manager’s report on his recommendations, he acknowledges that some of what he proposed may not be followed.

“There are a bunch of asks of Metrolinx regarding financial aspects and they may say no to some, they may say yes to some,” he said.

The motion calls for the city manager to report back to council in December in hopes that the recommendations can be implemented quickly.

Toronto plan could offer hope for struggling Eglinton businesses

News Oct 12, 2017 by Justin Skinner City Centre Mirror

The Eglinton Crosstown LRT promises to make the length of Eglinton Avenue more accessible to transit users, but as construction on the line continues, many businesses along the strip worry whether they’ll be around to witness the benefits.

In response to those concerns, Ward 15 councillor and TTC chair Josh Colle has put forth a motion that aims to help beleaguered store owners. The motion, passed at council on Tuesday, Oct. 3, asks the city manager to look into implementing 24 recommendations to promote business in the area, offer loans and other perks to affected stores, investigate the possibility of free or discounted parking in the area and more.

Colle said he was pushed to move the motion after speaking with some store owners in his Eglinton-Lawrence ward and elsewhere along Eglinton.

“It was largely informed by what I was hearing from businesses on Eglinton,” he said. “We’re looking at ways to increase the amount of parking available, looking at parking promotions and trying to better coordinate efforts between city departments.”

Related Content

Other key features of Colle’s motion include the possibility of waiving street fees for festivals, designating Eglinton as a Cultural Hotspot with arts and culture events, freezing property tax assessments, looking at tax deferrals for affected businesses, and using City funds on print, radio and television ads to promote the fact that Eglinton is indeed still open for business.

While he is confident that many of his recommendations will be relatively easy to implement, he noted that his motion also features some challenging requests.

“The most difficult part will probably be finding ways to offer forgivable loans, incentives and tax deferrals to ensure businesses can survive,” Colle said.

Many of the proposals will require buy-in from the City, Metrolinx and other parties, making the passing of the motion at council a mere first step.

Nick Alampi, chair of the York Eglinton BIA, said the measures are welcome but noted there is no simple cure for many businesses in the area. Hoarding and fencing along many segments of Eglinton block many storefronts from view, making walk-up business less likely even as parking has become harder to come by.

“We’re beginning to lose any form of visual advertisement,” he said. “Businesses are losing momentum – they work hard to stay in business with the construction and then (owners) come to their place and they’re just looking at a green fence in front of their store.”

Alampi added that fencing and hoarding have also led to narrower sidewalks along long stretches of Eglinton.

“You’ve got an area where you can’t see 25 or 30 businesses because of the fencing and there’s just a two-and-a-half foot pathway in front of them,” he said.

He recalled one new business owner opening up shop one day and arriving the next to find scaffolding erected right in front of his business.

“It’s disheartening what’s happening right now,” he said. “There’s no way of figuring out how to drive business to the area.”

John Ferrari, owner of Latina Ladies Wear at 1608 Eglinton Ave. W. said construction has led to the removal of a nearby traffic light in addition to the issues caused by hoarding and fencing in front of his store.

“A lot of customers can’t access us – a lot of elderly customers can’t get through here and when they took the traffic light out, they stopped coming,” he said.

The area where his store is located has been particularly hard hit as it is near the Crosstown line’s Oakwood stop. Transit stops necessarily require more work than simply laying down track, and businesses near where stops are being built are disproportionately affected. Because of that fact, Colle’s motion calls for greater incentives for those businesses.

While there is some street parking nearby, Ferrari said workers working on the Crosstown line often fill those spots when they arrive for their shifts first thing in the morning. With so many factors working against him and other business owners in the area, he said business has been “almost zero” over the past few weeks.

“Right now, I don’t know how much longer I can keep going,” he said. “We need access, we need parking, and we need to reduce this hoarding.”

He was happy to hear of Colle’s plan to drive business to the area, but feels much more needs to be done to save stores along Eglinton.

“I’m sure anything will help, but will this be enough?” he asked.

Preethi Veerella, manager of Banjara Indian Cuisine near Eglinton and Redpath, said she has noticed a number of businesses closing down as construction has continued along Eglinton. She estimated that business at the midtown restaurant has declined by 30 to 40 per cent, and while things have picked up since fencing was removed from in front of the store, Banjara continues to be impacted by the construction.

“We’re lucky because we have another restaurant at Christie and Bloor that’s doing well and we’ve been able to pump money from that location into this one,” she said. “A lot of places don’t have another location that can do that. How are they supposed to survive?”

Veerella said that even with the fencing moved from in front of Banjara, the restaurant is still noticing a marked decrease in business due to the ongoing road work. Both Yonge Street and Mount Pleasant Road – on either side of the eatery – have hoarding and fencing erected, making it more difficult for cars to get through.

“(The fencing) is not directly in front of us anymore, but it’s still blocking traffic flow,” she said. “A lot of drivers will detour off of Eglinton because they don’t want to deal with the traffic, so people just don’t see us here.”

Tadashi Kojima of the Leaside Acupuncture and Shiatsu Clinic near Eglinton and Bayview said his business has been hit less hard than some others but said he has seen a noticeable decrease in customers with construction in full force at the nearby intersection.

“There’s almost no access to the parking area, and some people aren’t able to come to this area now,” he said. “People who come for maintenance (massage or acupuncture), a lot of them don’t come here anymore.”

While businesses continue to struggle to cope with the impacts of construction, Sheliza Esmail, administrator of the Eglinton Way BIA, said she is hopeful the motion put forth by Colle will provide much-needed support and relief.

“This is very positive news for the businesses on Eglinton that have been significantly impacted by the ongoing construction activities associated with the Crosstown LRT,” she said via email. “The initiatives put forward by the councillors are the exactly what the businesses need right now to remain competitive while construction continues to threaten the viability of their businesses.”

While Colle is eager to see the city manager’s report on his recommendations, he acknowledges that some of what he proposed may not be followed.

“There are a bunch of asks of Metrolinx regarding financial aspects and they may say no to some, they may say yes to some,” he said.

The motion calls for the city manager to report back to council in December in hopes that the recommendations can be implemented quickly.

Toronto plan could offer hope for struggling Eglinton businesses

News Oct 12, 2017 by Justin Skinner City Centre Mirror

The Eglinton Crosstown LRT promises to make the length of Eglinton Avenue more accessible to transit users, but as construction on the line continues, many businesses along the strip worry whether they’ll be around to witness the benefits.

In response to those concerns, Ward 15 councillor and TTC chair Josh Colle has put forth a motion that aims to help beleaguered store owners. The motion, passed at council on Tuesday, Oct. 3, asks the city manager to look into implementing 24 recommendations to promote business in the area, offer loans and other perks to affected stores, investigate the possibility of free or discounted parking in the area and more.

Colle said he was pushed to move the motion after speaking with some store owners in his Eglinton-Lawrence ward and elsewhere along Eglinton.

“It was largely informed by what I was hearing from businesses on Eglinton,” he said. “We’re looking at ways to increase the amount of parking available, looking at parking promotions and trying to better coordinate efforts between city departments.”

Related Content

Other key features of Colle’s motion include the possibility of waiving street fees for festivals, designating Eglinton as a Cultural Hotspot with arts and culture events, freezing property tax assessments, looking at tax deferrals for affected businesses, and using City funds on print, radio and television ads to promote the fact that Eglinton is indeed still open for business.

While he is confident that many of his recommendations will be relatively easy to implement, he noted that his motion also features some challenging requests.

“The most difficult part will probably be finding ways to offer forgivable loans, incentives and tax deferrals to ensure businesses can survive,” Colle said.

Many of the proposals will require buy-in from the City, Metrolinx and other parties, making the passing of the motion at council a mere first step.

Nick Alampi, chair of the York Eglinton BIA, said the measures are welcome but noted there is no simple cure for many businesses in the area. Hoarding and fencing along many segments of Eglinton block many storefronts from view, making walk-up business less likely even as parking has become harder to come by.

“We’re beginning to lose any form of visual advertisement,” he said. “Businesses are losing momentum – they work hard to stay in business with the construction and then (owners) come to their place and they’re just looking at a green fence in front of their store.”

Alampi added that fencing and hoarding have also led to narrower sidewalks along long stretches of Eglinton.

“You’ve got an area where you can’t see 25 or 30 businesses because of the fencing and there’s just a two-and-a-half foot pathway in front of them,” he said.

He recalled one new business owner opening up shop one day and arriving the next to find scaffolding erected right in front of his business.

“It’s disheartening what’s happening right now,” he said. “There’s no way of figuring out how to drive business to the area.”

John Ferrari, owner of Latina Ladies Wear at 1608 Eglinton Ave. W. said construction has led to the removal of a nearby traffic light in addition to the issues caused by hoarding and fencing in front of his store.

“A lot of customers can’t access us – a lot of elderly customers can’t get through here and when they took the traffic light out, they stopped coming,” he said.

The area where his store is located has been particularly hard hit as it is near the Crosstown line’s Oakwood stop. Transit stops necessarily require more work than simply laying down track, and businesses near where stops are being built are disproportionately affected. Because of that fact, Colle’s motion calls for greater incentives for those businesses.

While there is some street parking nearby, Ferrari said workers working on the Crosstown line often fill those spots when they arrive for their shifts first thing in the morning. With so many factors working against him and other business owners in the area, he said business has been “almost zero” over the past few weeks.

“Right now, I don’t know how much longer I can keep going,” he said. “We need access, we need parking, and we need to reduce this hoarding.”

He was happy to hear of Colle’s plan to drive business to the area, but feels much more needs to be done to save stores along Eglinton.

“I’m sure anything will help, but will this be enough?” he asked.

Preethi Veerella, manager of Banjara Indian Cuisine near Eglinton and Redpath, said she has noticed a number of businesses closing down as construction has continued along Eglinton. She estimated that business at the midtown restaurant has declined by 30 to 40 per cent, and while things have picked up since fencing was removed from in front of the store, Banjara continues to be impacted by the construction.

“We’re lucky because we have another restaurant at Christie and Bloor that’s doing well and we’ve been able to pump money from that location into this one,” she said. “A lot of places don’t have another location that can do that. How are they supposed to survive?”

Veerella said that even with the fencing moved from in front of Banjara, the restaurant is still noticing a marked decrease in business due to the ongoing road work. Both Yonge Street and Mount Pleasant Road – on either side of the eatery – have hoarding and fencing erected, making it more difficult for cars to get through.

“(The fencing) is not directly in front of us anymore, but it’s still blocking traffic flow,” she said. “A lot of drivers will detour off of Eglinton because they don’t want to deal with the traffic, so people just don’t see us here.”

Tadashi Kojima of the Leaside Acupuncture and Shiatsu Clinic near Eglinton and Bayview said his business has been hit less hard than some others but said he has seen a noticeable decrease in customers with construction in full force at the nearby intersection.

“There’s almost no access to the parking area, and some people aren’t able to come to this area now,” he said. “People who come for maintenance (massage or acupuncture), a lot of them don’t come here anymore.”

While businesses continue to struggle to cope with the impacts of construction, Sheliza Esmail, administrator of the Eglinton Way BIA, said she is hopeful the motion put forth by Colle will provide much-needed support and relief.

“This is very positive news for the businesses on Eglinton that have been significantly impacted by the ongoing construction activities associated with the Crosstown LRT,” she said via email. “The initiatives put forward by the councillors are the exactly what the businesses need right now to remain competitive while construction continues to threaten the viability of their businesses.”

While Colle is eager to see the city manager’s report on his recommendations, he acknowledges that some of what he proposed may not be followed.

“There are a bunch of asks of Metrolinx regarding financial aspects and they may say no to some, they may say yes to some,” he said.

The motion calls for the city manager to report back to council in December in hopes that the recommendations can be implemented quickly.