eglinton crosstown lrt

Small businesses on Eglinton demand compensation after latest LRT delay

The never-ending construction on the Eglinton Crosstown LRT has been delayed once again and small businesses affected by the work are demanding financial assistance. 

Metrolinx has now been working on the project — which will run east to west across midtown Toronto for 19 kilometres with 25 stops — for more than 10 years.

In an announcement earlier this week, Phil Verster, the transit agency's president and CEO, said it's now expected that the LRT will open well into 2022 — not September 2021 as previously promised. 

Small businesses are fed up, and understandably so. They've been significantly impacted by the ongoing construction work and many have had their livelihoods partially or entirely destroyed.

In light of this, the York-Eglinton BIA has released a statement demanding financial compensation from the government. 

"Supporting small business must be a priority as we want to ensure that businesses that have experience disruption get to experience the benefits once light rail services start," Nick Alampi, chair of the York-Eglinton BIA, said in the statement.

"That's why we are demanding action and compensation to assist our small businesses that are experiencing financial hardship."

The statement goes on to explain that businesses have been directly impacted by barricades, there's been a drop in foot traffic that has led to a loss in revenue and customers, and the physical and mental wellbeing of many small business owners has also been negatively affected. 

The BIA is also calling on the province and Metrolinx to provide ongoing mental health support to business owners and their families, free of charge. 

"The proposed Small Business Assistance Program should include payment to assist businesses with their rent and other bills for eligible small businesses that are directly being impacted by the light rail construction," their statement reads. 

"This program needs to be immediately launched on Eglinton Avenue, and should be implemented as a part of all future major infrastructure transit projects in Ontario."

And they're not the only ones who believe businesses should be compensated. 

The Ontario NDP is also calling for a plan to help local business owners hurt by the Eglinton Crosstown delay. 

"Liberals and Conservatives have bungled the Eglinton Crosstown project so badly that it’s being sidetracked again," said Jill Andrew, NDP MPP for Toronto-St. Paul’s, in a statement.

"Businesses in vibrant communities like Little Jamaica, Yonge and Eglinton, and Dufferin and Eglinton, right here in my riding of Toronto-St. Paul’s, are already paying the price, and they simply can’t afford to keep hanging on by a thread, wracked with debt and stress, for two more years."

She said business owners have been dealing with the impact of construction on the Eglinton Crosstown since 2011. It was originally supposed to be completed in 2020, and now it won’t be finished until sometime in 2022.

Still, neither Metrolinx nor the Ford government have provided any form of financial compensation or other types of support for these small businesses.

"The Liberals let local business owners down by forcing the community to fight to prevent the shutdown of the Bathurst and Eglinton intersection for seven months," she said.

"Now Doug Ford is turning his back on business owners in my riding as closed signs sprout up along Eglinton Avenue, flying in the face of his claims that Ontario is open for business."

Lead photo by

Jeremy Gilbert

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