Construction frustrates West Queen West businesses ahead of ‘biggest’ retail month
West Queen West area business owners are outraged by the city’s closure of a number of streets to facilitate construction, during what they describe as a critical time for sales .
The West Queen West Business Improvement Area and its members have said they are “begging and begging” Mayor John Tory, councilors and the Toronto Transit Commission to show leadership and compassion for small businesses in December – “The most important retail month”.
“Construction is necessary [but] the timing is horrible. It’s Christmas, âbusiness owner Von Lichtenberg told CBC News.
“Merchants are bleeding money. We have lost about 65 to 75% of our businesses in the past two years to COVID, due to federal, provincial and municipal lockdowns.”
Lichtenberg – who has operated a business in the area for 28 years – said the city and province are not interested in small businesses.
“Little moms and pop stores are dying. There will be none of us [in] the next 10 to 12 years along Queen Street West, âhe said.
âI’m not saying you must feel bad for us, that’s how the world works. But small independent, owner-run businesses are disappearing, and that’s partly because the city doesn’t care. is not. a city for small businessesâ¦ it just is not. “
Erin Plank, another business owner, said the current situation was “bad”.
âWe had to have fun limiting our hours due to less foot traffic in the area. They put up fences along the sides of the road so it was a bit awkward to have people walk through that and always try to ride a bike and [it] feels a little in danger, âPlank told CBC News.
âQueen Street is all pedestrian traffic and people need to have easy access to transit in the area. It is therefore certainly the most inconvenient. “
Plank said it saw a 20% drop in its weekly earnings due to ongoing construction work in the area.
Additionally, Plank said November was one of the slowest months of the year, “so adding construction to that is very inconvenient for our sales.”
Meanwhile, at least one business in the area has been forced to close due to ongoing construction work.
âThe closure of Queen Street during the holiday shopping season was the last nail in the coffin,â said Dave Auger, general manager of 817 Sports Bar.
âNow the undertaker is here and 817 Sports Bar is closed. ”
Robert Sysak, executive director of the West Queen West Business Improvement Area, called the situation “devastating”.
“[There are] people without work in December during the holidays. There’s a business that’s gone, âSysak told CBC Toronto.
Sysak said West Queen West had lost more than 50 businesses during the pandemic, and he feared more could close permanently due to ongoing construction work.
City speeds up work to reduce disruption
Toronto and the TTC coordinated a number of infrastructure upgrades on Queen Street West, the city said on its website.
- Bay Street to Fennings Street Streetcar Track Replacement.
- Replacement of a streetcar track at the intersection of Queen Street West and Shaw Street.
- Replacement of the main and municipal portion of non-compliant water services from Bay Street to University Avenue.
- Streetscape improvements along Queen Street West, in partnership with the Queen Street West Business Improvement Area.
The city said it is “now stepping up this work to reduce disruption to businesses in the area during the holiday season.”