Councillor wants extra help for businesses during Broadview water main, track work

March 11, 2021 By David Nickle, The businesses at the west end of the Danforth near Broadview avenue have had it as rough as any over the past year during the COVID-19 pandemic. But while the rollout of vaccines over the coming months may offer some hope of a return to normal, that normal will not be without its challenges. In the coming months, the City of Toronto and the
Toronto Transit Commission will be starting work on two infrastructure projects on Broadview Avenue: the replacement of a water main between Gerrard Street East and Danforth Avenue, along with the replacement of streetcar tracks along the same route. The work will happen over 2021 and 2022 — and it will mean significant snarls at the busy intersection that is at once a transit hub, a major automotive and cycling route, and a business district.
Philip Kocev, treasurer of the Broadview-Danforth Business Improvement Area, said his organization's members had been hoping for a break. "Businesses are really tired, they’re drained — they’ve been opened, they’ve been closed; every time they’re allowed to open they think creatively and every time they get ready to open another change comes,” said Kocev. The BIA is hopeful that as the work begins, there will be additional help from the city — and is banking on a push by local Ward 14 Coun. Paula Fletcher to ensure that the city and the TTC provide help to businesses and residents over the course of the construction. Fletcher noted that the Broadview-Danforth business community could be in for an experience similar to businesses in Chinatown East in 2018, when the TTC replaced tracks at the Broadview-Gerrard Street East intersection. “That was an epic, epic construction and this will be epic too,” said Fletcher, who has brought a notice of motion to the March 10 meeting of Toronto council, asking for a variety of mitigation measures. In her motion, Fletcher has asked that the contractors responsible for the work hire staff dedicated to working with the business community — and to make sure that the work prioritizes pedestrian and cyclist access to Riverdale Park East.
“It’s important that the contractor respect the neighbourhood, offer safe crossings for pedestrians and cyclists — and there needs to be the business interface where there’s somebody to call when things are going wrong.” A dedicated liaison with the business community is one thing that Fletcher said wasn’t in place during the 2018 project, and Kocev said that sort of communication will be invaluable going forward — not only for this project but other smaller projects.

“With water mains on the Danforth — the infrastructure’s so old, it gets ripped up and fixed in so many different places; often when the construction goes on, businesses didn’t really know when it was ready to happen right in front of them,” he said. “Whereas if we’d thought about it ahead of time and there’d been communication, we could be a part of the process.”

STORY BEHIND THE STORYWith businesses struggling during the COVID-19 crisis, David Nickle wanted to find out how the west end of the Danforth would cope with a more “normal” disruption — construction.

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