Ford government pledges $3M for businesses affected by Eglinton LRT construction
March 10, 2020
A provincial pledge to fund marketing and promotions to help Eglinton-area businesses survive extended transit construction appears to fall short of the direct compensation many need to survive, local representatives say.
Transportation Minister Caroline Mulroney issued a letter Monday saying the province will provide an extra $3 million to Eglinton-area merchants' groups for “marketing, promotion and cleanup assistance” on top of millions of dollars already provided.
“In addition, Metrolinx will work with the Ministry of Transportation to explore the feasibility of opening portions of the Eglinton Crosstown (light rail line) sooner so that business and residents can reap the benefits of the line as soon as possible,” Mulroney wrote.
Metrolinx has twice delayed the opening date for the Crosstown line, most recently by two years into late 2022. The news was a major blow to many businesses reeling from reduced business as a result of disruptive construction on Eglinton, after many others were forced to shut their doors.
Councillor Josh Matlow (Ward 12 Toronto-St. Paul's), who has been pressing the province to help save remaining businesses, said the Ford government had taken “a good step in the right direction” with the pledge.
“I’m grateful to Minister Mulroney,” said Matlow. “What will be important to the businesses on Eglinton is whether $3 million will be sufficient and how many of them will be eligible to receive compensation.
“They don’t want a handout. They simply need a life line to survive the construction.”
Maureen Sirois, chair of the Eglinton Way Business Improvement Area, said the money is welcome and business groups appreciate the Ford government recognizing the impacts of construction.
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“But there is nothing in the letter about direct compensation and I think there has to be a place for that,” Sirois said. “Maybe this can be the start of that conversation.”
Sirois said the Ontario government should put language in its future contracts with companies hired to build transit projects that requires them to pay compensation if construction is extended.
Mayor John Tory issued a statement thanking Mulroney for the “welcome news.”