King Street businesses

King St. businesses blame streetcar pilot for slow December

Business owners along King Street continue to complain of lower sales figures following the launch of Toronto's groundbreaking 504 streetcar pilot project in November.

The pilot, which restricts car traffic and eliminates parking along King Street, has proven slightly divisive, but also very effective in terms of getting roughly 65,000 daily commuters around the downtown core more efficiently.

City officials are scheduled to evaluate the King Street Pilot Project's effectiveness after one year, but some in the community say that's not soon enough.

Ward 4 Councillor John Campbell (Etobicoke Centre) has been tweeting about the pilot's impact on local business in recent days after visiting a number of stores and restaurants along King between John and Portland.

"Spoke to 7-8 businesses and most are experiencing big sales declines," he wrote yesterday. "Several King Street West owners say they need some modifications to the pilot. Evening & week-end parking would make a difference. Business is down and they have the numbers to prove it."

Campbell said that business owners had written to Mayor John Tory and city councillors about "conservatively estimated losses of $2500.00-3000.00 per day."

CBC News confirmed that the email Campbell referred to in his tweet had been sent by Forno Cultura owner Laleh Larijani, who also told the Star last month that her bakery had seen of a 20 per cent drop in sales since the pilot's launch.

Several other business owners reiterated Larijani's concerns this week in interviews with the CBC, but local transit riders are still critical of their claims.

The Ontario Restaurant Hotel & Motel Association published the results of a survey last month in which 90 per cent of 92 King Street business owners said they wanted the pilot project to end immediately, citing sales losses between 5 and 25 per cent.

"It's just not logical that the 180 removed parking spots (3% of total in pilot zone) were sustaining businesses on King, let alone 5-25% of business," wrote one local Twitter usert at the time "Think about it."

"I'm tired of this argument from store owners," wrote another. "There could be so many reasons business is down... and I have to get to my work, not your restaurant."

There's also the issue of weather to consider, as many are pointing out today. Would street parking help King Street businesses at all if it still feels like -40 C outside?

It's hard to say, as few people in Toronto will go outside right now for any reason. Brrrr.

Lead photo by

Bruce Reeve


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