The vote at council came from a notice of motion from Ward 14 (Toronto-Danforth) Councillor Paula Fletcher, who was concerned that businesses in the Pape-Danforth area would be decimated by the upheaval around the downtown relief subway line construction.But that concern stemmed from ongoing problems experienced by small and large businesses along the Eglinton Crosstown LRT construction — particularly in the west end, in the former City of York.
John Ferrari, who owns Latina Ladies Wear, called the combined impact on his shop “devastating.”“There's no accessibility to my clients — there's no visibility. They've enclosed us to the extreme.” Ferrari says that many of his now-former customers have called wondering where the store has gone, because they can't see it from the road. “We're not a going concern any longer,” he said. “I come to work and I don't earn from my work anymore.” Ferrari and Alampi both agree that compensation would be a help — but Alampi is skeptical that the program would help the businesses, which unlike the property owners are feeling both short- and long-term pain. So far, he said the city and Metrolinx have been able to provide little meaningful help to the businesses. The BIA has used a $10,000 hardship grant to, among other things, install art in store windows that have shut down. There are banners extolling the benefits of the light rail line when it comes, and signs indicating that the stores along Eglinton are in fact still open. Alampi had some hope following the council vote. “The motions that were put forward — we're hoping Toronto will take the lead to help small businesses within the strip here,” he said. “With that said, it's still all to be seen.” Toronto economic development staff told council that a more fulsome plan for helping small business will likely be coming forward in 2020, informed by the council motions and also studies of how other jurisdictions have handled the matter. Economic Development Committee Chair Michael Thompson said that going forward, some form of tax relief for businesses affected by major infrastructure construction was a distinct possibility. “But we're not going to create a complete luxury gift in kind where we say no to property taxes,” he said. “We still have to pick up garbage, provide water. We know that there might be some reduction due, if there's a reduction of 20 to 30 per cent in sales and you can prove it.”