Steps taken to help Yonge busi­nesses

Town ef­forts to as­sist shops hurt by Viva con­struc­tion not enough

Richmond Hill Post - - News - ––David Olsen

Some Rich­mond Hill busi­nesses ad­versely af­fected by the con­struc­tion of the Viva bus rapid tran­sit project are tak­ing ad­van­tage of a new ini­tia­tive meant to help them lower their ad­ver­tis­ing costs, but some find it’s still a strug­gle to at­tract cus­tomers.

This Jan­uary, Rich­mond Hill of­fered busi­nesses along the con­struc­tion cor­ri­dor an ex­emp­tion from the $125 ap­pli­ca­tion fee for the mo­bile sign per­mit. Busi­nesses along Yonge Street from High­way 7 to Ma­jor Macken­zie Drive, and from Leven­dale Road to Gam­ble Road are el­i­gi­ble for the waiver.

Michael Tag­gart is the owner of Tru Pet in the Rich­mond Heights plaza. He said the road in front of his busi­ness is cur­rently blocked off due to con­struc­tion. He has no­ticed a 10 per cent drop in foot traf­fic.

“I’ve def­i­nitely felt a pinch and it’s hurt the bot­tom line,” said Tag­gart.

Tag­gart had used mo­bile signs to ad­ver­tise his busi­ness prior to con­struc­tion start­ing, but re­cent con­cerns about sign vis­i­bil­ity have pre­vented him from do­ing so. But vis­i­bil­ity may not be as big a prob­lem for much longer.

“[The con­struc­tion com­pany is] clean­ing it up a lit­tle bit in front of our plaza,” said Tag­gart. “They hope to move their stag­ing area ... at least the signs will be more vis­i­ble, so it is some­thing I do plan on tak­ing ad­van­tage of.”

Karen Mort­field, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor at the Rich­mond Hill Board of Trade, said af­ter sev­eral busi­nesses ap­proached her about the is­sue, town staff rec­og­nized that the fee waiver could quickly help busi­nesses in the area.

Tammy Scott is the owner of Flow­erS­mart in the Rich­mond Heights plaza. She has no­ticed a dra­matic de­cline in her walk-in traf­fic since con­struc­tion started. She won’t be tak­ing ad­van­tage of the mo­bile sign waiver, how­ever.

“You still need to pay for the sign,” Scott pointed out. “There’s prob­a­bly nowhere where it can vis­ually go in front of this plaza. It’s such a dis­as­ter out there.”

Scott adds that a pre­vi­ous pro­mo­tional cam­paign by Viva to sup­port plaza busi­nesses failed to have a pos­i­tive ef­fect on her shop.

“Ev­ery­one’s try­ing, but there’s only so much you can do when peo­ple don’t want to get in their car and drive down Yonge Street be­cause it’s such a mess,” said Scott.

Tag­gart hopes that both Viva and Rich­mond Hill fur­ther sup­port busi­nesses im­pacted by the con­struc­tion by of­fer­ing them dis­counts on other forms of ad­ver­tis­ing.

“I do ap­pre­ci­ate the cost sav­ings,” says Tag­gart. “I al­ways think there is more that could be done.”

Michael Tag­gart, a busi­ness owner in the Rich­mond Heights plaza, says busi­ness has dropped 10 per cent

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