TORONTO — The banging and dust is one thing, but for local businesses on Queen Street West, TTC track replacement work is just another hit to their bottom line.
Clothing store owners Richard Lyle and Jennifer Halchuk say they are angry and frustrated the street is being torn up in the weeks leading up to Christmas shopping season.
“Instability yet again,” Halchuk told CTV News Toronto. “I have no idea what our sales will be and it has me constantly reaching out to people on Instagram and trying my best to get pedestrians to come because no one will come because they can’t park,”
Co-owner Lyle argues the work should be delayed until January.
“Replace the tracks in the loser months not in the weeks leading up to Christmas. That is unfair after a pandemic,” Lyle said. “I mean, we are still in a pandemic, it isn’t over.”
Two blocks east, businesses near Niagara Street are hoping to avoid a similar fate.
CTV News Toronto first spoke with owners last week when they were lobbying the city to delay the track work until January. On Tuesday, they got an answer.
“It is going to start on November 19 instead of November 29 and it will go until December 6 so that is fantastic,” Rob Sysak, of the West Queen West BIA, said.
“It saves ten days, but some members won’t be happy because it still means three weekends of holiday shopping will be impacted, but at least the city came to the table,” Sysak told CTV News Toronto.
Janet Wright owns the nearby FloorPlay Socks. She said the amended construction timeline is not a compromise and small businesses like hers are barely hanging on.
“The people who made this decision will not suffer anything,” she said. “People who own small businesses will be in trouble and be forced to lay off Christmas staff.”
Still, other business owners on the stretch of Queen Street West believe the compromise is better than nothing.
“The city might not be happy with us. The TTC might not be happy with us. We might not be happy with them but in a compromise everyone gets a bit of what they want,” Doc Von Lichtenberg, owner of Doc’s Leathers, told CTV News Toronto.
The city said it recognizes the challenges faced by local businesses, however, deferring the work “to a later date will create more traffic impacts and delay other construction projects that are planned in 2022.”
In a statement, the city said it will work with local BIA’s to encourage shopping during construction.