BIA plans how to survive Eglinton LRT mess

A hip marketing campaign is one of several initiatives the Eglinton Way BIA is planning to keep merchants thriving until the dust settles on Crosstown LRT construction.

“We can’t make it go away,” chair Maureen Sirois said from the BIA office on Eglinton Avenue West near Warren Road. “Come what may, this is coming and when it’s done it’ll be great, but how do you get through all the mess and the disarray?”

Sirois and executive director Monique Drepaul said the BIA, which covers the Eglinton Avenue strip from Oriole Parkway to Chaplin Crescent, is planning to launch a campaign to encourage local residents to continue shopping in the neighbourhood.

“We are working on a marketing campaign to remind customers where we are, to come on down, it may be a little dusty but come on anyway,” said Sirois, who owns Accessories By Eva on Eglinton Avenue. “We’ve taken some steps that are forthcoming
to remind the residents that it’s up to them to patronize the businesses.

“If they want the businesses to survive they’ve got to find a way to come to Eglinton and we’ve got to find a way to make it easier for them to come.”

Drepaul said the next step for the BIA is setting up a community outreach committee to get information out to merchants and residents in the area. The upcoming marketing campaign will include advertising in print and social media, lawn signs and posters with an interesting twist on the construction theme.

“Our website will have a section dealing with construction updates relevant to the area and we will be featuring merchant promotions to remind the community that The Eglinton Way is still open for business, so watch for those upcoming changes,” Drepaul said.

To help minimize the impact on the business community as inevitable blockages and street closures occur, the BIA is pursuing alternate short-term parking on side streets to compensate for the loss of street parking during construction.

“Businesses are fearful that their customers won’t be able to come and patronize their stores,” Sirois said. “The concerns are disruption to the normal flow of commerce on Eglinton… Everybody is kind of fearful of another St. Clair.”

Drepaul said the BIA has been proactive by attending meetings and discussing with Eglinton Connects and Metrolinx groups, with their ward councillors, Karen Stintz and Josh Matlow, and residents associations.

For Sirois, the most difficult part of the process has been getting educated about all of the things BIAs don’t normally deal with, like public transit, city bylaws and the development plans for the Crosstown LRT.

“It’s challenging because these are businesses that people have spent their lives building and they have a tremendous passion for their business and they want to succeed,” Sirois said. “It’s a very unsettling, scary place to be, so there’s no question that the businesses are concerned.”