Ontario Transportation Ministry Caroline Mulroney pledged on Monday to provide $3 million in funding to support businesses suffering due to ongoing construction of the Eglinton Crosstown LRT.
In a letter to Toronto Mayor John Tory posted on Twitter late Monday, Mulroney said she is disappointed the Eglinton Crosstown is delayed and she acknowledges that the delay is having “real and severe impacts” on businesses along the route and the families that operate those businesses.
Mulroney said Metrolinx, the provincial transit agency, has provided more than $6.6 million to business improvement areas for promotional measures, parking discounts, window cleaning and local procurement.
Metrolinx announced in February that the LRT would not be completed on schedule and is expected to open well into 2022 rather than in 2021.
“We recognize, in response to the recently announced delay, additional support is needed,” Mulroney wrote.
The money is intended to be used for marketing, promotion and clean-up assistance, she added.
Mulroney said the $3 million would be provided as soon as possible. She noted that the funding is in response to advocacy on the part of the mayor and Robin Martin, MPP for Eglinton-Lawrence.
Mayor calls money ‘welcome news’
In a statement on Monday, Tory said he is pleased with the announcement.
“This commitment by the province is welcome news and I want to thank the minister and her government for continuing to work with the city to address the concerns of residents and businesses directly impacted by this construction,” Tory said.
Tory said he has made it clear during construction of the Eglinton Crosstown that the project needs to be completed.
“Throughout this process, I have made it known that businesses along Eglinton Avenue need this finished, need support and commuters need the transit,” Tory added.
Two councillors who represent wards along the route, Mike Colle and Josh Matlow, say 140 businesses are no longer operating on Eglinton Avenue West due to the impact of prolonged construction, which began in 2013.
Ministry, Metrolinx to mull idea of opening parts of LRT early
In the letter to Tory, Mulroney also indicated that the ministry and Metrolinx are exploring the idea of opening parts of the Crosstown LRT sooner, before the entire line is completed, to help businesses that have suffered during construction.
In late February, Metrolinx spokesperson Anne Marie Aikins had said Metrolinx had “no pool of money” to compensate businesses.
Mulroney’s letter did not say how the $3 million will be distributed among the businesses or whether they will have to apply to receive financial support.
The Eglinton Crosstown, when finished, will include 25 stops along Eglinton Avenue from Kennedy in the east to Mount Dennis in the west. The 19-kilometre route will include a 10 kilometre underground portion between Keele Street and Laird Drive.