Reviving a stretch of Bathurst

[attach]6124[/attach]Does Bathurst Street need a facelift?

Eglinton-Lawrence MPP Mike Colle says it could use one from at least Eglinton Avenue W. to Highway 401.

“We’ve got some really good iconic draws, safe residential neighbourhoods — and the bus system is really good here,” he said. “What Bathurst needs is a new face, because right now it looks very tired.”

For example, the commercial building at 2828 Bathurst St. has six storeys of vacant space and only three tenants. Next door is the gutted Mike’s Munchies and across the street sits empty restaurant Colonel Wong.

“I have noticed there are a lot of empty and old-looking stores on this part of Bathurst,” said Lawrence Plaza shopper Morgain Rae. “It makes you wonder if they’re not doing well.”

Colle acknowledged parts of Bathurst Street appear to be in decline, but said it also has the ingredients to become one of Toronto’s most vibrant streets.

“Not much attention has been paid to Bathurst … but by no means is it atrophying,” he said. “In fact the opposite is happening, young families and newcomers are moving in and there’s incredible potential.”

Bathurst Street is designated as an avenue in the city’s official plan, which means it will eventually be the subject of an avenue study, said Neil Cresswell, the city’s manager of community planning for North York’s west section.

[attach]6125[/attach]Cresswell said there has been discussion on including an avenue study as part of 2013’s capital budget, but it’s unknown what street would be selected.

An avenue study would look at zoning changes, urban design guidelines and other planning aspects to make recommendations to encourage residential and commercial development.

It would also consider aspects such as beautification.

“I think what we need is to do a lot of things to make this streetscape more pedestrian friendly,” Ward 15 councillor Josh Colle said. “We’re looking at improving the streetscape and adding benches, which may seem like little things, but it starts to give a more welcoming feel to Bathurst.”

In addition to parks and people hubs on Bathurst Street, the area needs more mixed-use development, Councillor Colle said.

“There are a lot of narrow stretches that are just not very hospitable for residents. One thing I’m insistent on is a lot of retail on the street level.”

Helder Vieira, president of the company that manages 2828 Bathurst St., said he would welcome an avenue study to revitalize the street.

He said he’s not sure why some businesses have struggled in the area.

“It is a very busy area, I couldn’t even tell you why there are some vacancies there.”

As rents rise, the area is in a state of transition but there are some unique shops on Bathurst Street, like Gryfe’s Bagel Bakery, that will ensure it stays vibrant in the future, MPP Colle said.

“We’ve got a lot of fascinating places that are one of a kind. So let’s put a new face on Bathurst and really highlight these jewels in the rough.”