queen street west

Construction-related road closures in store for Queen West and businesses are worried

The City of Toronto is planning a series of road closures along Queen Street West in an effort to conduct several infrastructure upgrades between June and December of 2021, including both streetcar track and watermain replacement as well as overall streetscape improvements.

The city sent out a pre-construction notice this week to alert locals of the upcoming closures, spanning from Bay to Fennings Streets, and it has some business owners worried about the impact the road work will have on those already struggling to survive. 

"This is going to close whatever retail and restaurants actually survive this current lockdown," Janet Wright, owner of Queen West store floorplaysocks, tells blogTO.

The construction is set to begin in mid-June and, in an effort to minimize the impact on businesses, the city says the projects will take place in smaller work zones of just 300 metres at a time. 

It will begin at Bay Street and move west towards Spadina Avenue from June until August, followed by work that will begin at Fennings Street and move east towards Spadina from August to December.

queen street west

Map of expected work area and phases along Queen Street West. Map by City of Toronto

Each work zone will be closed for vehicle access for up to four weeks to allow construction to be carried out as fast as possible, the city says.

Work will also take place 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with the loudest and most disruptive activities reserved for 7 a.m.-11 p.m.

TTC access will also be affected throughout this ongoing work. Both the 501 and 301 Queen streetcars will operate as far west as Parliament Street, according to the pre-construction notice, before diverting south and west via Parliament and King West to King and Spadina and turning back.

Queen Street buses will meanwhile operate as far east as the Broadview/Queen intersection before turning back via Broadview, Gerrard and River.

North-South routes crossing Queen Street West may also need to be diverted around construction at times.

The city says this work is necessary to bring the aging track and watermain infrastructure to a state of good repair, as the section of watermain that will be replaced was built in the late 1800s.  

"The City of Toronto recognizes the significant impact the COVID-19 pandemic continues to have on businesses," reads the notice. "Efforts continue to be made to lessen the impact of this construction work, specifically regarding scheduling, delivery of work and CaféTO accommodations."

But Wright says the fact that the work is expected to continue into December, a season most businesses rely on for increased sales, will be detrimental to already struggling establishments. 

"Every store owner I know on Queen Street West who is able to hang onto their business is doing so banking on being able to have customers for the holiday season. Many will close their stores forever if they can't serve their customers for the holidays this year," she says. 

"The City of Toronto choosing to do road work during this upcoming holiday season will prove to be a disaster. Not only will this limit access via the TTC, it will eliminate parking and cause ridiculous traffic. Our customers will not come down."

Anyone looking to learn more about the upcoming construction projects can attend an information session on Friday, May 7, from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. 

"The timing of this shows the lack of consideration the city has shown to small business and restaurants," Wright says. "If this work needs to be done then the city can begin in January and not destroy yet another selling season and put us all out of business. "

Lead photo by

Hector Vasquez

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