queen street west

Toronto shops worried about street construction during critical holiday season

To say the past couple years have been tough on Toronto businesses would be an understatement. However, at least one neighbourhood has recently discovered that things may be getting even worse for them in the next few weeks.

The City of Toronto recently informed small businesses located on Queen West between Bathurst and Niagara that much of the street would be closed off in the coming weeks as part of a construction project that involves replacing TTC tracks.

Many businesses rely on the increased traffic from holiday shoppers, whether they're shopping for Christmas, Black Friday, or any other reason.

To lose traffic during these weeks could be a killing blow for many small businesses who have already struggled to survive through the lockdowns.

Originally, businesses in the area were told the construction would take place in October.

A series of delays has led to construction being pushed to run from Nov. 29 to Dec. 16, cutting out nearly the entirety of the holiday shopping season with three full weeks worth of customers essentially being taken from businesses.

Now, the West Queen West BIA has sprung into action making calls to the City as well as Councillor Joe Cressy to prevent this from happening.

The hope from businesses in the area is that construction will be pushed to next year so that the holiday shopping period won't be interrupted. 

With December being the most important retail month for businesses and the Canadian Federation of Independent Business stating that 7/10 businesses owe $170,000 on average coming out of the lockdowns, the hope is that a change can be made.

While a change has been made, it isn't the one that most businesses are looking for. The City now says construction will start this week so it ca be complete by Dec. 6.

"There were ten days, they did listen. They've been in communication, but they just shouldn't be there right now. No street in the city of Toronto that has retail should be closed in the month of December," Rob Sysak, Executive Director of the West Queen West BIA tells blogTO. 

"It's a no win. On some sense we [get] the ten days but it's still until Dec. 6. Next Friday is Black Friday. I've had a lot of tears, a lot of people venting."

A number of business owners in the area are worried lost expenses caused by this could be the final blow to a tragic year for them.

"I've been told by a member, you close Queen you close me," Sysak says.

"We're going to lose some members because of this decision. The decision is going to cause some people their livelihoods."

Lead photo by

Jeremy Gilbert

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