MATLOW: Taking steps to combat disruption

Residents of Ward 22 are excited about the new Eglinton Crosstown LRT that will connect Toronto from Etobicoke to Scarborough.

In midtown, the new rapid transit line will be underground, with stations at Chaplin, Avenue, Yonge, Mount Pleasant and Bayview.

While the Crosstown will be a tremendous asset to our community, like any major construction project there will be challenges during construction. Most of the tunnel work will not affect at-grade activities, but there will be cuts to the street and temporary lane closures at intersections while the stations are built.

We all understand a certain amount of disruption is inevitable, but there are steps that I believe must be taken to protect our neighbourhoods, mitigate traffic impacts and support local businesses.

The TTC and Metrolinx have already responded to my request to improve the TTC bus barns site on the southwest corner of Yonge and Eglinton. I agree with the transit agencies’ decision to use the property as a construction staging ground to limit lane closures, but there is no excuse for continuing to leave the site a derelict eyesore for so many years. Earlier this spring, my office was successful in having boarding erected with well-designed panels informing the community about the Crosstown.

Moreover, I was able to help ensure that midtown’s major north-west artery will remain open during construction. For years, Metrolinx has stated that the closure of Allen Road is necessary. Given the disruption already cause by a lane closure, many residents expressed concern about the upheaval a complete shutdown would cause. I’m happy to report that, after months of working with Transportation staff and Metrolinx to find less-intrusive construction practices, Allen Road will remain open.

I am also advocating that the city’s transportation staff limit the duration of lane closures on Eglinton and mitigate the resulting flow of traffic on residential streets.

The success of local businesses affect our quality of life, property values and the ability of small business owners to support their families. I believe it is vitally important to support our local shops and restaurants.

We’ve sadly seen past major transit projects cause shops to close. This is not only unfair to merchants, but will reduce the vibrancy of Eglinton and adjacent main streets.

Therefore, I am working with the Eglinton Way and Mount Pleasant Village Business Improvement Areas on a Shop Local campaign.

Increased signage and new parking arrangements will be in place during construction. These measures are a good start, but we can all do our part to ensure that our unique local businesses are still standing — and thriving — when the Crosstown is completed.

I have pledged to do all of my holiday shopping in areas affected by the construction.

Please join me in keeping our community’s main streets vibrant.

Together, we were successful, after years of inaction on transit improvement on Eglinton Avenue, in ensuring the Crosstown would be finally built.

However, now that the project has begun we must continue to challenge Metrolinx to do it well — on time, on budget and with as little impact on local residents and businesses as possible.