Lo­cal busi­ness silent on Yonge project

Mul­tilin­gual ma­te­ri­als fail to prompt re­sponse from main street

Bayview Post - - News -

As the new cityscap­ing project to re­con­struct Yonge Street in North York gathers com­mu­nity feed­back, city staff is hav­ing a hard time reach­ing lo­cal busi­ness own­ers.

A re­cent drop-in event for REimag­in­ing Yonge, hosted by Toronto Trans­porta­tion Ser­vices, on Oct. 10 yielded around 300 at­ten­dees. Staff pre­sented de­sign op­tions and so­licited feed­back on whether to re­move two traf­fic lanes and in­stall a bike lane on Yonge or to change the road struc­tures on par­al­lel Doris Av­enue and Beecroft Road in­stead. Days later, staff hosted a meet­ing for lo­cal busi­nesses.

“We ac­tu­ally hand de­liv­ered in­vi­ta­tions to pretty much all the small busi­nesses on Yonge Street be­tween Shep­pard and Finch,” said Jef­frey Dea, man­ager of City of Toronto In­fra­struc­ture Plan­ning.

His team handed out ma­te­ri­als in Chi­nese, Farsi and Korean and had trans­la­tors on hand, an­tic­i­pat­ing many of the busi­ness own­ers would not speak English as a first lan­guage. In the end, one busi­ness showed up.

“We just haven’t been able to con­nect with the busi­ness own­ers, and it’s not with­out us at­tempt­ing to make the con­nec­tion,” Dea said.

When asked about this project, one lo­cal busi­ness owner voiced his ap­proval and an­other was skep­ti­cal.

“If the side­walks get big­ger, then more peo­ple can walk by and in­crease our busi­ness,” said Shri Pon­nuthu­rai, who man­ages the Frog: A Firkin Pub near Shep­pard Av­enue and Yonge. He had been in­vited to the meet­ing but did not at­tend.

Joe Choi, gen­eral man­ager of Sushi Moto just up the street, dis­agreed.

“There’s a short­age of park­ing. Peo­ple get frus­trated. They don’t come.”

He didn’t go to the meet­ing and wasn’t even sure if he got the PARK HOME AVE. in­vi­ta­tion.

“My opinion isn’t go­ing to do any­thing,” he added. “As a busi­ness owner, we just suf­fer. What­ever the politi­cians say, we just fol­low.”

The is­sue of park­ing has been a sore spot for op­po­nents of the project. Yonge has 255 curb lane park­ing spa­ces, which are avail­able dur­ing off-peak hours.

“One of the things we con­tinue to hear is the im­pact to street park­ing on Yonge Street,” said Dea.

Toronto Trans­porta­tion Ser­vices found 14,000 pub­licly ac­ces­si­ble spa­ces within the study area and is look­ing for op­por­tu­ni­ties to make up for loss of spa­ces on side streets.

“I think there’s a per­cep­tion that park­ing is go­ing to be re­moved from Yonge Street and there’s not go­ing to be any park­ing for peo­ple who want to go to lo­cal busi­nesses, and that’s just not the case.”

The next open house REimag­in­ing Yonge will sched­uled for De­cem­ber.

A ren­der­ing of one de­sign op­tion to trans­form Yonge Street

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