Business owners on Roncesvalles complained that construction projects drove customers away and led to a decline in sales. If elected as councillor for [url=https://streeter.ca/tag-ward-14.html]Ward 14[/url], what would you do to minimize the disruption large-scale construction projects have on business and residents?
We need communication, proper technology and stipulations in the contracts that we set forth. We have to study the area and the type of neighbourhood — if it’s a high impact, major project like Roncesvalles, we have to put in a proper schedule, notify residents and business of how long it is going to take … and put into the tendering of the contract that there would be a strict deadline of complete and if they aren’t able to complete by that time, there’d … be loss of revenue. Then we’d meet the exact dates. And use the most efficient technology.
I would do my best to give as much notice to residents and businesses as possible to allow them to plan for the disruption in their neighborhoods and the possible slowdown in their businesses.
Beforehand, get the idea and the schedule of how it’s done so it doesn’t interfere with business. They need a sidewalk and to be careful about bikes – they get rocks in their tires. Roncesvalles wasn’t planned properly.
Roncesvalles was poorly planned, poorly negotiated, poorly managed, due to the fact there’s a councillor working for the residents who doesn’t live in the area, doesn’t shop in the area, wouldn’t have a clue on the impact it would have – this type of construction in the overall area. My recommendation would have been: Roncy under construction would have been one side first, to have road availability on one side as the project goes on. Making sure the time line and dates are properly managed, making sure the time line and dates have less impact on the overall neighbourhood, not just those who walk there.
I was in business, I had business losses because construction happened. Nobody helped. I will call together the business owners on Roncesvalles, including the closed ones or their reps, and discuss about the amount of the compensation. We would work out a compensation plan, especially for those people who closed their business. And we would make the decisions together, not without them.
We need to have the mechanism to ensure that all contracts for the construction jobs, the studies to the actual stripping of the road to installing new pipes or street car rails are all done at once so that these massive jobs are done quickly and efficiently as possible. In severe cases where construction will have an obvious impact on business, the city … should offer relief packages — small ones, minor ones to ensure they don’t go out of business. Small businesses are part of the community and part of the identity of the area, and we need to protect them.
First, I’d make sure that the best bid comes in, not necessarily the cheapest so that it would finish in a timely fashion with the least impact on the businesses and residents. There are consequences — Do what you can to make everyone comfortable throughout the whole procedure. Take the best bid, and be responsible for them getting things done on time.
The ultimate goal is to make sure projects are delivered on time, which relies on two things: centrally coordinated construction and better planning.
The TTC coordinates its own construction, which is a major factor in why city streets are torn-up multiple times where it could have been done once. Construction must be centrally coordinated in order to maximize efficiencies; save us money; reduce construction time; and reduce the uncounted losses for hard working families who lose their businesses, for local residents who lose their jobs and for the character of a neighbourhood that loses its iconic stores. We should be inserting performance guarantees into all construction contracts — so businesses can be compensated if a project is grossly over schedule.
During the construction period, we meet with business owners, the contractor, city staff in my office, every two weeks and try to solve problems that emerge as we go. We want to be both on time and on budget. Because I’ve taken such an active role with the community … we’ve anticipated problems and made adjustments to get on track and on time. Roncesvalles is going to be one of the most beautiful streets in Toronto. If you look at the rental rates being charged…you can see that they are anticipating that its going to be a great shopping district, because the prices are going up.
Keep people more informed and supported by a) doing more frequent ‘Main Street Walks’, dropping into businesses personally and having more of a presence and b) using Web 2.0 systems such as Facebook and Twitter, which also allows for two-way communication.
Match small business owners with a mentor or host workshops with other business people who have already gone through this kind of disruption so that people can plan, budget and be prepared.